Sep 022008

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.9.2

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Intro: Well, happy post-Labor Day.  I hope my readers one and all enjoyed their holiday weekend.  I had a fairly ironic Labor Day (spent it working).  Tonight will be a short column for two reasons.  1.)  I have early meetings tomorrow.  2.) I have A Super Secret Special Interview to edit for tomorrow.  So enjoy the shortish column for tonight and tune in tomorrow for the first ever Fifty Two Tuesdays Interview.

Listening: Been on a Raconteurs kick lately, broken only by the occasional listen-through of The Wallflower’s Breach.  (My friend Trevor’d never heard the album, so I introduced him to it on our way out to Seattle last week and a few of the tunes have been stuck in my head ever since.)

Two preference questions for the audience: Broken Boy Soldiers or Consolers of the LonelyBreach or Red Letter Days?  Personally, I think that Consolers of the Lonely is the better overall album.  It’s more cohesive, better written, and more musicall mature.  That being said, Broken Boy Soldiers DID have “Steady, As She Goes” and “Hands”.  On the Wallflowers side, I think that Breach takes the cake.  It’s a much more expressive album, and Jakob Dylan’s songwriting and vocals are best when they’re emotive.  Red Letter Days has some groovy tunes on it, but I think it lacks the emotional punch of Breach.

Upcoming: New albums out today from Jefferson Starship, Olivia Newton John & Friends, and New Kids on the Block, making it a perfect “wait, they’re still around?” trifecta.  (I’ll leave to the audience any snarky observations of irony regarding a band called “New Kids on the Block” coming back after 14 years to release and album called The Block.)

Next week new albums from…Well, just about everyone, really.  Michael Franti, Calexico, Joan Baez, Gym Class Heroes, LL Cool J, Jessica Simpson, Okkervil River, Dar Williams, Metallica, Joan Osbourne,…

Thinking: …no, wait.  I’m sorry, I just can’t leave a reference to Metallica’s new album to slide casually by.

Dear Metallica,

PLEASE stop making albums.  Every time you release a new album, it only serves to remind people that you used to be influential, energetic, and listenable.  St. Anger was an album too far.  I mean, I wasn’t even that big a fan of ReLoad, but okay, fine, I was willing to give you one last go after such an illustrious career.  But seriously, guys, you’re becoming the Bono of metal music.  When was the last time anyone gave a rat’s ass about what Bono was doing musically?  If you said “right around the last time he took off those ugly ass shades of his”, you’d be perfectly right.  You’re becoming That Guy of the hard rock scene!  (Except that, you know, there’s four of you.)

Now, I was a fan of Load, and your self-titled, and some of the early stuff.  I even like some of the covers you did on Garage, Inc.  But the most influential thing you’ve done in the past decade was to sue Napster and we still haven’t forgiven you for it.

C’mon guys, it’s time to hang up the recording equipment.  You can still tour, still play in the garage of any of the four dozen mansions that you have amongst the lot of you, but we really don’t need to hear it.  St. Anger was bad enough, anything else is sure to just damage the memory of what was, ultimately, a good an important career in modern music.

Yours Cordially,

A. M. Brown

Thanks, had to get that off my chest.

News: Rock stars are strange, strange people.  A short sampling:  Axl Rose is creepy, dirty old man, despite being chronologically younger than I thought.  Pete Doherty gets his (apparent) wish and dies, only to have some meddling paramedics intervene.  Jack Black is a strong contender for “Most Boring Addict In History“.  And Amy Winehouse has another mind-altering influence in her life.

Song of the Week: The Wallflowers, “Letters from the Wasteland”, off of Breach.

Aug 142008

Intro: Greetings all and welcome to the Olympics edition of the Tuesday Playlist. I say that, like it’s going to be all about the olympics, but really, they just get passing mention in one paragraph. Well, two paragraphs if you count this one.

Right, well, in this issue of the playlist, I talk about the new Conor Oberst album, admit to an irrational dislike for terminal punctuation in song titles, and poke fun at the music media in an oblivious and possibly ironic fashion. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Listening: It’s been interesting to hear the way music gets used in the Olympics. It’s been used to soundtrack several events (notably the floor gymnastics events), and while it’s been interesting to hear some of the songs chosen, it’s even more interesting to see how little the athletes seem to respond to it. One gets the impression that the floor routine, for instance, would look the same whether or not there was a peculiarly national folk song or cover of an American pop tune sound-tracking the proceedings.

On a more domestic note, I’m really digging the new Conor Oberst album. If Cassadega was Conor Oberst discovering Country music, then his new self-titled is Conor discovering Mexico. Spanish lyrics and references to Mexico and hispanic themes abound. And while the references are occasionally awkward or forced (“El cielo es azul”, no, really Conor?), they’re typically the sort of well-crafted lyrics that Oberst fans have come to expect. Particularly strong tracks include the classic Oberst purgative “Moab” and the rowdy, noisily fun “Souled Out!!!”.

And while the album is mostly Conor in top form, there are a few disappointments. One random short track of bellowing noise (“Valle Mistico (Ruben Song)”) seems to exist only to give the listener’s “Skip Track” button a workout. One track, “NYC-Gone,Gone”, is the first minute of a raucous, energetic Alt-Country tune which I, for one, would really like to hear. All things considered, however, despite the two short, frustrating tracks and a few moments of earnest Oberst pretention, the album is a solid 9.

Also in new(-ish) music, I recently grabbed The Soho Dolls’ Ribbed Music for the Numb Generation and Washington Social Club’s Catching Looks. Of the two, I’ve mostly been listening to Catching Looks. By which, of course, I mean that I’m in the habit of putting “Modern Trance” on repeat and dancing my arse off.

Upcoming: Brian Eno and David Byrne have apparently collaborated on an album that’s due out next Monday. With two fevered music imaginations like that, the odds are that whatever it is, it won’t be boring. It’s called Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, which says to me that David ByDrne won the naming rights for the album (knowing those two, likely by being the victor in a drug-fueled pillow fight.)

Also coming up next week is the physical release of the new Dandy Warhols album, Earth to the Dandy Warhols. I’ve only a few of the tracks off the album, but they’ve been all kinds of funky goodness. It turns out, however, that all the tracks on the album are available for streaming (scroll down a bit and you should see the track listing with a play button by each tune) from the Dandy Warhols website.

The next couple of weeks also promise releases by The Stills, Loudon Wainwright III, and, if you swing that way, Fiery Furnaces. Of special note is the 26th of this month which might as well be called Official Music Industry “They’re Still Alive?” Day with releases by Blues Traveler, Slipknot, The Verve, and BB King.

The King album actually should be pretty cool. It’s called One Kind Favor and it’s King doing covers of songs by his early influences.

News: I’ve had my head buried in the sand (read: work) for the past couple of weeks, so I’m a bit out of touch with industry news. Fortunately a quick glance at the front page of tells me that it’s been a slow news week. For those too lazy to click links: Paul McCartney goes camping! Bono the Pretentious snorts salt water! Victoria Beckham is rich and spoiled! Also, in music news, sound is carried by vibrations in the air!

Thinking: Random personal annoyance – I dislike song titles that include terminal punctuation. I got to thinking about this when listening to “Souled Out!!!”, one of the tracks off the new Conor Oberst album. First of all, as any good Middle School graduate should know, exclamation marks are “one or none” affairs. Secondly, putting terminal punctuation in your song titles just strikes me as somehow tacky. Not quite sure why, but it seems to say “your sentence ends with this song title!” It always looks awkward to me to put titles like “Fit, But You Know It.” in the middle of sentences. The period just screws the whole thing up.

Is anyone else bugged by this, or is it just me being finicky?

Song of the Week: Well, the song of the week WAS going to be Washington Social Club’s “Modern Trance”, which is catchy as hell and been stuck in my head for days, but I can’t find an easily shareable version of it on the intarwebs. It’s on, but I can’t get it to play. So here’s “Souled Out!!!”, off of Conor Oberst’s new self-titled which, despite its redundant exclamation marks, is an awesomely groovy tune: