Nov 042008

Intro: Well, it’s election Tuesday, and that means that I’ve got a television and a six pack of Sam Adams waiting for me.  I figured I should probably throw my column together before I sat down to survey the political damage.  I also figured that I should steer clear of anything political in case anyone out there wants to stare at some non-election-related for a few minutes.

So here it is, your election-news-free Tuesday Playlist.

Listening: Okay, have you ever liked a Cure song?  In your entire life?  Do you think “Lovesong” was kind of awesome, or maybe think that “Jumping Someone Else’s Train” is sort of catchy?  Maybe, like me, you have a fondness for “10:15 Saturday Night” because it’s a fairly accurate picture of your social life?  If so, then drop what you are doing and go get a copy of the new Cure album.  It’s called Dream 4:13 and I honestly don’t think that Robert Smith & Co. have done an album this great since 1989’s Disintegration.  It’s exactly the sort of dark, melodic New Wave goodness that have made the Cure one of the best bands of the past few decades.

I mean, I’d go on and on about the tracks off of the album to which I’m addicted and which are being spun on constant repeat but, well, that’s pretty much all of them.  I mean, hell, “The Only One” was released as a single back in May and I’m still totally smitten with it.  It’s full of the sort of catchy musical quips that make the Cure so effortlessly listenable and enjoyable.  “The Reasons Why” is a perfect example of exactly the sort of hook-laden, spacey New Wave pop that made most of us fall in love with the Cure in the first place.

Also quite excellent is the the new album Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Cardinology.  My friend Trevor aptly described it as the upbeat version of Cold Roses. I haven’t gotten too much of a chance to listen to it thanks to the new Cure album taking up near permanent residence in my stereo, but it’s definitely Ryan Adams’ rich, well-crafted rock music, but with a more upbeat aesthetic than a lot of his previous albums.  I’m especially a fan of “Magick” and “Born Into a Light”.

Upcoming: Election day this year will sees the release of new material from Shiny Toy Guns, OhGr, and Travis, among others.  In the following weeks look for full lengh albums from Chris Cornell, Mudvayne, Nickelback, Beyonce, Sammy Hagar, and even a new project by Sir Paul McCarney, called the Fireman.

Thinking: Of late I’ve mostly been devoting mental run cycles to either work or thesis, so no deep, insightful thoughts regarding music.  So here’s a video of Bjork explaining how a TV works.  Hat tip on that one to Ann.

News: You’ve all seen these literally-lyric-ed music videos, right?  If not, then watch them immediately.  The one for “Take On Me” is brilliant, as is the newest one, for Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge”:

Okay, so not really news, but, uh, brilliant.  And new, at least to me. . . .

Right, in REAL news: Snoop Dogg has apparently figured out that he needs decent musicians to prop him up these days and has collaborated on a track with UK Trip-Hoppers Massive Attack.  If you’re undecided even at this late hour but still have the chance to vote, you might want to consider that Akon has announced he’ll leave the US if McCain wins.  So, you know, not saying that on its own is enough to vote McCain, but it certainly does give one something to think about.  Finally, Noel Gallagher announces that he’s already written the next Oasis album and that it’ll sound like the Kinks.

Song of the Week: Here’s another of the singles off of the new Cure album.  It’s called “Freakshow” and I find it to be all kinds of groovy.

Aug 062008

Tuesday Playlist for 2008.8.5

Uncategorized Comments Off on Tuesday Playlist for 2008.8.5

Intro: Okay, well, I’m a little late starting this one (11:53pm), but it’s still Tuesday, so I declare that this still counts as on-time. I’ve got a lot to get through, so I’m just gonna jump right in.

Listening: Well, my progress up through recent musical history’s brought me more or less up to the present. Been listening to some of my favorite 2007/2008 releases (Our Love To Admire FTW!) and even getting around to checking out some new albums and bands to which I’d been meaning to listen.

Speaking of which: why did no one tell me about the Rakes before? Their song “Binary Love” popped up a few times on one of my Pandora stations, so I added it with the hopes of hearing more of their stuff. Well, as so often happens, one thing lead to another and before I knew it, I’d bought Capture / Release and was using it to soundtrack my drive to Helena this last weekend. Honestly, the album isn’t quite as brilliant as I was hoping, but it’s still pretty strong. “Strasbourg”, “22 Grand Job”, and “Work, Work, Work (Pub, Club, Sleep)” are all fun. Also I’m enough of a geek that I’m pretty sure I want “Binary Love” played at my wedding.

I also grabbed The Last Shadow Puppets debut, The Age of the Understatement. It’s more introspective and complex than either Alex Turner or Miles Kane’s previous work. From the lush string parts on “My Mistakes Were Made For You” to the oddly cacophonous vocal counterpoints on “Separate and Ever Deadly” the album’s full of pleasant little aural surprises. I’m not sure what I think of it as a whole quite yet, but I do like it. If you like either complex, novel rock music or are a fan of either Arctic Monkeys or the Rascals, it’s well worth a listen.

I also just picked Conor Oberst’s new self-titled which just came out today. If you haven’t heard the single off it (“Danny Callahan”), it’s available for download here. If you’d prefer to just stream it:

Warning: it’s not exactly a happy tune. It is, however, beautiful and moving. Speaking of the album…

Upcoming: Wow, how did I not know that Oberst’s new release was due out today until I saw it on Amazon’s frontpage? I seriously need some new sources for upcoming release dates. Metacritic is accurate, but woefully incomplete. The Billboard lists are so noisy as to be practically unusable. News sites are, of course, hit or miss, since they all differ in what releases they deem mention-worthy. Where do you folks hear about new releases?

In concert news, Puddle of Mudd are playing Spokane tomorrow (2008.8.6) night, if you’re into that sort of thing. Also, I learn by way of a comment here at the blog that The Shondes are touring this Fall. They’ll be playing several shows over on the coast. (Alas, none here in the Inland Northwest, but that’s nothing new.) If anyone’s interested, I’m seriously considering heading over to catch the Seattle show. Finally, Alt-Country masters Wilco will be playing Spokane on the 21st of this month. They give a GREAT live show, and if I can scrape together the funds, then I’ll definitely be hitting it up.

News: Did you know that Lee Perry is a dirty old man? Neither did I, but his new single “Pum Pum” is pretty much a stoned, dirty old man’s ode to cruising for sex in nightclubs. Wait, why do I say “pretty much”? That’s EXACTLY what it is. It’s also crazy-groovy. The man has a masterful command of the Dub/Raggae side of things.

(Warning: lyrics are not safe for work, beats are not safe for staying still in one’s seat. Download Link. Hat Tip to 3Hive.)

Also, those perpetually catty folks over at PopJustice are right: the new Streets single is pretty disappointing. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s “shite”, as they so eloquently put it, but it’s definitely no “Stay Positive”.

Thinking: So I’m a huge sucker for unique voices. Voices that, after a few listens, anyone could pick out of a audio lineup. Louise Wener, Tom Waites, Robert Smith. I love artists whose voice is entirely their own. It’s a little like hearing an instrument that no one else in the world can play. Paired with a good writing talent (either their own or a partner’s) and the possesors of such voices can turn out some truly brilliant music. (Louise Wener is a great example of that: a fantastic songwriter with the unique voice necessary to really make her songs her own.)

What I think is really interesting is how often these voices wind up either spawning genres or, at least, defying being placed into them. I think that part of the reason that Alt-Country became a big thing is that Billy Bragg and Jeff Tweedy have such unique voices and musical visions to accompany them. Similarly, I think that the current wave of singer-songwriters is thanks in large part to the unique voices of people like Conor Oberst and Ben Gibbard.

I think that the vocal qualities are one of the key things that shapes a new musical movement or genre. It’s why so many singers in the late 90s sounded like bad Kurt Cobain or Eddie Vedder impersonators. In a way, their voices were distillations of what the genre was meant to sound like.

Just a thought that’s been rattling around in my brain of late.

Song of the Week: I’ve been going back to this tune over and over again ever since I got the album. This is “Orphans”, by Beck, off of Modern Guilt: