Sunday, December 31, 2006

Songs 276 to 293

All right, we're in the home stretch. Rather than clean on NYE, I'm trying to wrap up things here on the SAFTBRC front. With fewer than 90 songs to go, I'm feeling it. I actually downloaded these songs just before Christmas by scouring a bunch of "best of" lists. I'm not sure I agree that they're the "best of" anything, but I'm starting to run circles trying to find new bands to listen to. If this year has taught me anything, it's that a whole lot of music out there sounds exactly alike. Perhaps if I were more tween, I'd be differentiating these bands by eyeliner brand or suiting fabric or soy milk v. bio. I am clearly so very old.

Song 276: Regina Spektor, "Fidelity." Is it just me, or does she sound remarkably like Nellie McKay? This is a hooky song; nice popping along-kind of vibe. I don't know if the rest of her stuff has this staccato rhythm or if it's a delivery designed to match this one set of lyrics.

Song 277: Mary J. Blige, "Take Me As I Am." This is perfect anthem--grammatical errors and all. Ms. Blige puts her all in each song, and when she sings, "Put my life all up in these songs, just so you can feel me," you know she means it. The driving beats behind the lyrics are solid, too. All hail the queen!

Song 278: Beck, "Nausea." Beck's puppet performance on SNL earlier this year was perhaps the best moment in music for me. This is a great song: catchy, freaky, simultaneously low fi and high tech--total Beck. Rock on.

Song 279: Sophie Milman, "La Vie en Rose." The Piaf classic updated for a Starbucks world. Still, Milman's voice is quite lovely and may be Canada's latest attempt to make up for Loverboy. She does right (if light) by the song.

Song 280: Say Hi to Your Mom, "Blah, Blah, Blah." Okay, I picked this song by the band's name. It's totally undermixed murmuring about drinking blood, blah, blah, blah. The techno beat is very 70s, and their website is very "Structuralism doesn't account for vampires."

Song 281: Midlake, "Balloonmaker." Kind of like Beirut meets e. e. cummings at a one of those post-hippie Canadian band shows. Or, John Phillip Souza marries Brian Wilson and has a child for a new age.

Song 282: Lupe Fiasco, "Kick Push." A fantabulous song much prized on car rides and parking lot waits. I dare you not to sing along with the chorus and draw out the "coast" with as much cool joy as possible. ("I love that song," pronounces my daughter definitively as she walks through the room.)

Song 283: Bound Stems, "Western Biographic." Opens very electronically but then moves into an almost ska-light vibe. A perky song that has a post-Katrina and the Waves feel. Fun.

Song 284: Sparklehorse, "Don't Take My Sunshine Away." Raw low-fi sound, distortion heavy sections, especially at the end. Seems to take the listener in and out of the song fairly intentionally. Has softer lyrics. It's the kind of song you can stop listening to and then realize that you've stopped listening to . . . if that makes sense.

Song 285: Adem, "Launch Yourself." A bit too undermixed. This may be lazy on my part, but I don't want to have to try so hard to listen unless there's a really big pay off, which there isn't here. I'm not all shiny surface, but something needs to be glistening, I think.

Song 286: Hotel Lights, "AM Slow Golden Hit." This is a pretty song with a talky-singy vocal that glides along very closely with the backing tracks. Mellow mood music.

Song 287: As Tall As Lions, "Love, Love, Love (Love, Love)." The lead singer is a little too plaintive, but the chorus is rousing and has a nice upswell under it. The end is too precious for my tastes.

Song 288: What Made Milwaukee Famous, "Selling Yourself Short." Nice pop-y rock-y music with sing along choruses and lots of cymbal work. Probably a really good live band. Very uptempo but a little long--long enough to work in some brass at the end.

Song 289: The God Damn Doo Wop Band, "Rooftops of Bangor." The opening versifying is too long; it would be better to get into the doo wop earlier without drawing it out. It's fun in the vein that runs from the Shangri Las to the Go Gos.

Song 290: Outkast, "BOB." Just the best song ever. ("Dear, 'Bombs Over Baghdad' is, in fact, not the best song ever." "Yes, it is." "No, it's not." "Yes, it is." "No, it's not." --continue for as long as you wish, we did.) I can't find my copy of Stankonia, so I bought it. So should you.

Song 291: Ghostface Killah, "The Champ." Full on old school meets new school with amazing lyrics and anger. The mix recalls "Night of the Living Baseheads" and brings it big time. Who knew GK would be the Wu to break?

Song 292: Maritime, "Parade of Punk Rock T-Shirts." I picked this one for its title. The song is boppy sadness about loss, and it's quite catchy. I like the vocalist's phrasing and the spare arrangement.

Song 293: Shawn Colvin, "Even Here We Are." She's back, and sounds very much the same. Comfort food music.

71 to go.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Songs 250 to 275

Hi, remember me? I used to write about music. Much has happened between August and December--some good, some bad. But, right now, I'm just going to jump right in and hit it with my holiday mix of tunes. I spent many an hour (okay, about an hour) finding this assortment on iTunes, so here is the result of my incredible labor in Santa's mines (where I saw neither Leo nor Djimon). This whole list is available on iTunes as an iMix, "Malagueta's Holiday Mix."

Song 250: The Raveonettes, "The Christmas Song." I know, I already reviewed a Raveonettes song this year. This sounds a lot like that one. Probably everyone only needs one Raveonettes song . . . ever. Their sound is on that fine line between novel and novelty. Christmas for the disaffected Claire's Boutique set.

Song 251: Jane Monheit & Steve Tyrell, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." My husband thinks the song itself is worn out. I like it. This is a passable, new version. Apparently, Steve Tyrell has pulled a Freaky Friday with Dr. John. Also, remember when Jane Monheit was supposed to be the next big thing? I'll bet she's wishing Diana Krall never figured out that singing and playing the piano was possible--as is the former Mrs. McManus.

Song 252: Vanessa Williams, "What Child Is This?" Okay, this is totally one of my absolute favorite Christmas songs by the unstoppable Vanessa Williams. Is there anything she can't do? The song is Blue Note cool with her rich tones adding a sultry edge to the nativity (maybe Catherine Hardwicke should have cast her; she could have pulled it off, I swear).

Song 253: Smashing Pumpkins, "Christmastime." Ah, Billy Corgan. It is likely never a good sign when an adult man has a child's name. Still, back in the day, he was it, wasn't he? This is the very essence of SP with "Christmastime" thrown in where a noun is needed. You can just see little bald Billy sitting below the tree cutting himself with broken bulbs. Ho-ho-ho.

Song 254: The Weepies, "All That I Want." If writing this blog has done nothing else for me, it's turned me into a complete Weepies-head. I just love them. This is another super atmospheric piece--just the right combo of whimsy, nostalgia, and hopefulness. You go, Weepies!

Song 255: Sufjan Stevens, "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance!." What can anyone say about Sufjan Stevens at this point? He is a universe onto himself. Can you imagine what would happen if Beck and Mr. Stevens formed a supergroup? The Scientologist laying down with the Lamb? Would this be another sign of the Metalocalypse? The line about the sister cutting her bangs is priceless--though the song could be a bit shorter and still be Christmas-riffic.

Song 256: Brave Combo, "Must Be Santa (Polka)." This, dear readers, is the official, hands-down, children's favorite holiday song in my home. It's good for dancing, for singing, and for overall merriment. Do not deny yourself the joy that this song can bring! Seriously, go buy it now. (My son just this moment walked in and said, "We love this song!" Operators are standing by.)

Song 257: NRBQ, "Christmas Wish." The perfect follow-up. I can hear my daughter singing along right now (literally, in the living room). It's a beautiful song with a lovely message and a great singing in the car song.

Song 258: Stevie Wonder, "What Christmas Means to Me." You know it from any number of commercials that play while you dance around the living room suddenly captured with a desire to spend. What I love about the Motown sound is that you can actually hear each layer of a song, almost like it was a pile of Colorforms that could be taken apart and remixed in any way. This would be a cool game.

Song 259: James Brown, "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto." I can almost hear Santa saying, "Yes, sir, Mr. Brown." I actually heard this song on Tom Joyner a couple days back, and it made me dance in the car with joy. I will tell all that "James Brown sent [me]."

Song 260: Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "Christmas." A classic fill in the blanks Blues number. Could be about Christmas, could be about the Sony Wii, could be about pastrami: does it really matter? This song made me realize one thing: for Christmas, I want a "name."

Song 261: Ella Fitzgerald, "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" How can a holiday mix not include this song? And, can you find a better version? Lush as Christmas cashmere; sad as that last five minutes before the stores close on the 24th. Sit back and savor.

Song 262: Tony Bennett, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Mr. Bennett is the world's gift for Christmas: utterly hopeful, amazingly self-aware. My husband now does a mean Tony Bennett impression that slays me every time. So sweet.

Song 263: Bjork, "Frosti." I find this song achingly beautiful, a music box of crystalline perfection. Bjork--the posthuman Tony Bennett.

Song 264: Mariah Carey, "All I Want for Christmas Is You." I know, "Mariah?!" But, this song is such a crowd pleaser. Ms. Carey is the posthuman Liza--which is probably not good for any of us. Still, it's an entertaining Polar Express-wreck.

Song 265: June Christy, "The Merriest." When I was a little girl, my father adored June Christy, the alterna-Julie London. Ms. Christy never got a role on Emergency, but she did earn a place on my holiday mix with this wonderfully tinny number.

Song 266: Billy May, "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer Mambo." I'm not thinking about what this means, but this song is one of my son's favorite holiday numbers. Oh, and he wants to marry Jack Sparrow and have a pirate baby. Whatever. The kid's got great taste!

Song 267: Danny Elfman, "What's This?" The pacing of the song and the lyrics combine to form one of the most perfect evocations of a child's Christmas morning that I've ever heard: racing from shiny thing to shinier thing with a combustible combination of glee and gluttony. Ah, the meaning of the season in full effect! (He has a special Christmas wish on his website, too.)

Song 268: Elvis Presley, "Winter Wonderland." You can almost hear the pill bottles falling like little prescription snowflakes as the wonder of winter numbs Mr. Presley. Just one more take, E, for the kids, with a big finish. ("Oh, I love this song. I heard this song at school, and I love it!" my daughter just screamed while painting--I kid you not--a Jack Sparrow gun for my son.)

Song 269: Guster, "Donde Esta Santa Claus?" A great new Christmas classic. My children have been taking Spanish this fall, which has resulted in them learning that "chocolate" in Spanish is "chocolat-A." Ah, money well spent. Plus, the song has "mamacita" in it, which brings me great joy for some reason.

Song 270: Chris Isaak, "Mele Kalikimaka." Following on 269 above, you have now entered the multicultural section of my holiday mix. And, who says international diversity more than Chris Isaak? Oh, wait.

Song 271: Sufjan Stevens, "Did I Make You Cry On Christmas Day? (Well, You Deserve It)." Proof positive that Mr. Stevens isn't all light and love. And, a great song to boot! Plus, given that his holiday album is the Berlin Alexanderpatz of the season, it deserves two cuts on my mix.

Song 272: Hem, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Second time for this song on the mix, but a different, very stripped down version. Emo-sad with not quite enough strength to decapitate the snow people.

Song 273: Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Skating." A classic. But, have you watched any of those Charlie Brown specials lately? They are really awful.

Song 274: Bette Midler, "Cool Yule." Admitted, no one beats Louis Armstrong at this song, but I already owned that version. Ms. Midler does a fine job with modern production that adds a technological gleam to the already glitzy tune. Jump and jive, y'all.

Song 275: Aimee Mann, "The Christmas Song." Again, no one will win the cage match with Nat King Cole. But, Ms. Mann adds a note of regret to this that Mr. Cole's slick veneer of perfection would never allow. And, with this, I wish you a very merry holiday season!

90 to go.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Songs 241 to 249

Back for more after a brief break to plead with my children to nap and to swap loads of laundry. I feel so accomplished when the laundry's done and put away; it's so sad. But, almost nothing in my life is finished, so the sight of empty laundry baskets is awe inspiring. That and a made bed. It's the little things, dear reader. On Friday, my son tripped on the playground at school and bit a hole through his lip. The doctor told me that if I wanted it to look "perfect," I could have a plastic surgeon put a couple of stitches in it, otherwise it would just heal on its own. "Perfect," isn't that Jon-Benet creepy. Iquickly made the "heal on its own" choice, which he seemed to agree with (as did the nice overanxious intern with him). I guess they found it creepy, too. But, today, whilst reading the NYT, I looked up to see him standing next to his sister (they were robot-dancing, of course) and realized exactly why my son tripped over his own feet. He's had an atomic blast-worthy growth spurt and now is taller than she. He's a biggun, that boy! Such cuties, and now back to our show.

Song 241: Joshua Radin, "Star Mile." I believe this was off a Scrubs list. It has an early Simon & Garfunkel feel to it--all the way down to the line endings. Very relaxing and harmonic. The lyrics are sad, but it all sounds so pretty. I can picture rocking my babies to sleep to this.

Song 242: Quad City DJs, "Come on Ride It." I bought this picturing how my kids would like it--and robot dance to it. We've also just bought a new edition of The Little Engine that Could, so this seemed fitting. Over seven minutes of completely pointless party music complete with whistles and choo choo noises for less than a buck. How can you go wrong?

Song 243: Quien Es, Boom! "Our Home, Edna." Tinkling percussion and vague electronica. The vocals are mixed so low, it's kind of difficult to discern them. This song is compelling, nonetheless. There's something there in the music that's missing in a lot of current indie stuff; it has a depth that's interesting and makes you want to listen again.

Song 244: Ray LaMontagne, "Trouble." This is a retro Muscle Shoals song that may be aiming for Otis Redding but actually sounds more like Janis Joplin. His voice is too light for the Otis growl. I don't get the sense he's had enough real trouble to get the gravitas needed.

Song 245: Serena Maneesh, "Her Name is Suicide." Yep, it's more chilly soundscapes from the Norweigan triangle. This doesn't have the bone break sparseness of Sigur Ros, though. It's got a little too much new age-iness about it. And, there are moments when the instrumentation has a 70s feel, like a tv movie theme.

Song 246: Sergio Mendes & the Black Eyed Peas, "Mas Que Nada." I grew up on the Sergio Mendes/Herb Alpert lush production streaming from my parents' stereo credenza. This is a nice street-friendly remix. It would be ideal in a Fame update. There's something about the BEP's sound that's immediately appealing and forgettable at once.

Song 247: The Streets, "Never Went to Church." An odd anthemic song about loss, religion, and a stereotypically British stiff-upper-lip emotionally wrenching father/son relationship. What if R. Kelly were a Britkid chronicling his inability to deal with parental lost? Here ya' go.

Song 248: The Strokes, "You Only Live Once." How could I have gone eight months without a Strokes song? I seem to see one of Fabrizio's many floppy fro'd cousins every day. They're fine enough, but this music seems kind of limited. I feel like one Strokes song is all Strokes songs.

Song 249: Vaux, "Are You With Me?" This was a free download. It's worth that much. Pose-y rock that's too repetitive and seems to rehearse a billion other songs. I can see them being a big deal in their local market, but I think we've all heard this band before.

116 to go.

Songs 231 to 240

I am determined to catch up on so many things this weekend, which is sad since it's halfway through Sunday and I'm still doing laundry and trying to clean off my counters (Surfaces, darling, surfaces!). But, the dog is freshly washed, so I've got that going for me. The Emmys are on tonight, which gives me prime clothes folding time, and dinner's planned. Huzzah! The children made these adorable yet creepy paper/patchwork likenesses of themselves at their new school this week. I bought shadow boxes at my mothership (read "Target") yesterday, and we hung them amidst the stairway photo exhibition. This has lent the whole mise-en-scene a vaguely Night Gallery feel, and I expect any morning to be awakened by my paper/patchwork son and daughter and find my real children inside their shadowboxes. See what 70s tv did to my brain! Ah, cue the music.

Song 231: Band of Horses, "Great Salt Lake." There's something oddly Beach Boys-y about this song. Like if the BB's mated with a grunge band, this would be their indie-club playing children. It's a good song, but I think I'm just sick of plaintive male vocalists. Man up, boys, it's a surprisingly tough world out there; acknowledge and move on.

Song 232: Fleeting Joys, "Lovely Crawl." Ah, the shoe gazing wall of sound is back, with a retro wallpaper courtesy of the latest issue of Domino. Nice genre piece, but the vocals are too deeply mixed for me. It's all a little too murky.

Song 233: The Heavy Blinkers, "Try Telling That to My Baby." Retro 60s pop, but again, the mixing doesn't seem sharp enough to distinguish the many (MANY) elements. Clever repro with a very pleasant feel, though I don't sense much new being brought to the party here--which makes me wonder why they're mining this vein.

Song 234: Joe Cuba Sextette, "Joe Cuba's Mambo." I got this off the So You Think You Can Dance iMix. It's full on dinner/dance mambo joyousness. Slim dresses, pointed pumps, black eyeliner, sticky bouffants--it's all here, dear readers. Mambo!

Song 235: Josh Ritter, "Come and Find Me." This song reminded me of Jim Croce, whom my dad loved. We used to listen to him late at night in our basement on an old credenza stereo, and I remember staying up to catch him on the Midnight Special. He has less bar-earned cred than Mr. Croce, but there's a good soul there.

Song 236: Justin Timberlake, "SexyBack." Yeah, there's no soul here, just plenty of industry savvy. Honestly, this is so cranked with production juice that my dog could have sung it and achieved the same results--which are quite catchy. Still, it's pretty funny to here JT acting all street, when I doubt he's stepped a foot on the street sans moisturizer, sunscreen, and bronzer in a decade.

Song 237: Langhorne Slim, "In the Midnight." Cracking falsetto over a rave-up fiddlin' music track. There's a nice call and response bit that makes me think this plays fairly well live. It sounds a bit too derivative digitally.

Song 238: Love is All, "Talk Talk Talk Talk." Retro new wave that sound kinda Missing Persons-y, complete with the Dale Bozio bleats. There's also some Quarterflash sax mixed in. Very busy. But fun--peppy; only a Euroband would be this faithful. Break out those patent Candies, girls!

Song 239: Mission of Burma, "2Wice." Yep, that Mission of Burma. Nice mid80s college rock--big rolling percussion with top mixed vocals. Full of the arty urgency only a liberal arts education can bring forth. I'm heading to the closet to find my olive hole-y Izod cardigan as soon as this is over!

Song 240: Mystikal, "Shake Ya Ass." I know, Mystikal is a problem (a big problem), but this is a fantastic song. It has just enough hoodoo to evoke New Orleans. I've been thinking a lot about the city since watching "When the Levees Broke" earlier this week. There's a rawness about Mystikal that escaped the No Limit and Cash Money crews--something that elevates this song and captures the essential intoxicating danger of NO.

125 to go.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Songs 220 to 230

See, here's why no one should buy a hamster for their children. Because if you do, you will look up after 10 minutes of watching the hamster wander around in its little "boy in the plastic bubble" ball, and realize you and the dog are the only ones left in the room. Why? Because children have the attention span of hamsters, and they--unencumbered by "boy in the plastic bubble" balls--have hit the high road to greater adventures. Thank god ours is a rental. Oh, and it's named Suji not Sunji like I thought. And yes, your two cats will tag team it on the dining room table, knocking the cage to the floor, leaving you to wonder, "Jeezy Creezy, do I have to make a run to Petsmart for a Suji-clone?! What did that little furry cupcake (I'm trademarking that nickname, which came straight from my son) look like again?" Then, you will spy a wobbling dust bunny and sigh with delight, that you--in fact--are spared explaining to Ms. PreK teacher (while writing a nice check for Suji2) how your negligence is truly limited only to hamsters. Let's relax to a little music, shall we, and forget that we've been pee'd on by a furry cupcake.

Song 220: Augustana, "Boston." I found this on an iMix for Scrubs I think. It has that Scrubs slo-mo montage high mournful quality. Ah, the drum fill. Welcome back old friend! This song seems of a piece with so much that's out there now, like that song about a good day or bad day or some kind of calendar event that they played all the time for a while. It's not bad; it's just there. (It would be cooler if this song were secretly about the band, wouldn't it.)

Song 221: Cary Brothers, "Ride." Begins with a more complex instrumentation than most emo stuff and has a nice reverb-y sound. The music is more interesting than the vocals, which kind of fade into a sound sweep. Maybe that's the idea, which would be odd given he's a "singer/songwriter." It does get repetitive toward the end. But, full-on props for covering a Thompson Twins song on the MySpace page, though the original's better.

Song 222: Field Mob f/ Ciara, "So What." I bought this song for one line that has struck me with joy every single time I hear this song on our local urban radio station: "Ladies and gentlemen, Ciara!" It's just delivered with such perfect pitch and anticipation. I LOVE IT! The song has a turn of the century Outkast feel; nice Romeo/Juliet ride song.

Song 223: Christina Aguilera, "Ain't No Other Man." I heard this driving to a lunch meeting the other day. It pops! She can sing, maybe a bit too much, but gosh, how does she do it so fast? I really like the sample and the scratchy scratchin' 78-feel. Production is all in this genre, dear readers, and she's got it going on there.

Song 224: Ciara f/ Chamillionaire, "Get Up." I thought I'd give Ciara a try on her own. She's pleasant enough, kind of like a new Aliyah. Mr. Chamillionaire is barely on this song. She seems like the upper register Beyonce.

Song 225: Del Amitri, "Tell Her This." The vocals have more depth and warmth than most MOR/AOR. There's a Pogues-quality to the music. But it's been run through a shiny filter, so it has the simulation of despair without the bad teeth that might go with it.

Song 225: DJ Kool, "Let Me Clear My Throat." I bought this because of a YouTube video I caught on VideoDog, starring CaptainPeppito. Trust me, all of you have heard this song, dear readers, you just might not know its title. It is a transcendental signifier--equally at home in crack dens, fancy arenas, porch hangouts, frat parties, and SkyShows. I dare you not to shake it! I can't find a link to DJ Kool, so here's the inspirational video.

Song 226: Drive-by Truckers, "Gravity's Gone." Post-roots rock with jangly guitars, aviator shades, and too small plaid pearl button shirts. Nice turns of phrase. I think this is better music live than on Memorex. Still, isn't it nice to break up the rap and emo with some sawdust to clear the palate?

Song 227: Feist, "Mushaboom (Postal Service Remix)." Electronica with lilting vocals that are mixed nicely above the beeps and boops. Appropriately driving. Gets quite busy around the mid-point where the layers become less Missoni and more LLBean. Then, it cleans out again.

Song 228: Fergie, "London Bridge." Oh, please, you like it, too. It's Bow Wow Wow smashed up with the Spice Girls sprinkled with some "from the hood" sassiness by way of the Abercrombie and Fitch at the Galleria. Perfect summer disposable tune; good beats and production.

Song 229: The Finn Brothers, "Anything Can Happen." This is another Scrubs song. It's very inspirational and motivational; driving drum and guitars full of potential . . . somethingness. It's a fine song, but that anything can also be a guest appearance on a Wiggles video singing with Captain Feathersword.

Song 230: Gomez, "Hamoa Beach." I think this must have sounded better in the songbite. It sounds kind of lamer in the long version. Oh well.

135 to go.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Songs 218 and 219

Whew, this should bring me up through the end o' July--which is great because it's almost the end of August. Because I'm so good at keeping current with this blog, I started another (see the new sidebar). Also, we saw Ricky Bobby last night. HI-larious; there's something surprisingly appealing about Will Ferrell (he's kind of like the male Reese Witherspoon--way winning). Oh, and I bought the whole of the Tony Bennett Stepping Out cd online. It's so beautiful; I just love those hushed Fred Astaire ballads. You know, this is weird to say, but there are parts of this album that remind me of Lil' Jon. Listen for yourself and figure out what I mean (you know you're intrigued now, dear reader!). Okay, I need to get back to cutting fabric, so here are my last two July songs. I got both these off the indie singer/songwriter spotlight on iTunes. Always a dangerous combo (oy, the coffeehouse), but these are pretty good.

Song 218: Rose Melberg, "Take Some Time." She has a light voice, very melodic with a kind of hush, but not overly little-girly. The song flows along nicely, lots of "ooo-s." The intermittent piano works well, too. Pretty.

Song 219: Thao Nguyen, "Chivalry." Rolling guitar intro with an alt-country kinda vibe (viet-country?). She has an Edie Brickell-like bleat in her voice. The quick-step pacing is nice. The guitar pickin' midway is quite bluegrass-like. Surprising.

146 to go.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Songs 212 to 217

So, I'm apparently using a new software, which for me simply means I had to rummage through my brain for my password. I found it under a stack of Dominos and Luckys. Thank goodness it wasn't beneath the September VF and InStyle, else I would have killed myself lifting them. So, here I sit--my first three diss chaps out for review and down to just one chap left to cover in my textbook, which at last gives me some time to blog. The children started their new preschool a couple days ago. It's just down the street, which provides several benefits: it cuts my commute to work by about 40 minutes; it prevents me from simply drifting over to Old McDonald's (as we like to call it, kinda gives it a homey touch) every other night for dinner; and it provides my kids with a school environment that actually seems, well, school-y. They love it so far--especially the part where they carry their lunch (yep, it's lunchables, folks) in their personalized Disney totes. I was going to add a lovely Jello pudding to the lunchables/Capri Sun/fruit snacks menu, but my husband wondered aloud exactly how quickly we were looking for a visit from Child Protective Services. I, on the other hand, felt that my emphasis on preservatives in my children's food suggested that I wanted to keep them around--and fresh!--for a while, making me a rather good mother. Still, they went pudding-less. I am now faced with the prospect of bringing Sunji--my daughter's class hamster--home at some point. I can envision only tragedy when Sunji escapes somehow from his cage, encounters one of the local fauna, and becomes either a moving cat toy or a furry Scooby snack. Perhaps I should wait for Flat Stanley later in the year. In the meantime, here's some more music:

Song 212: Living Things, "Bombs Below." Full on rockin' tune. You can picture some guitar choreography coupled with head banging. Seems slightly political in lyrical content, with a nice ironic use of the requisite rock phrase, "we salute you." All in all, rockin' good news.

Song 213: Blue October, "Hate Me." Creepy, Japanese-horror-y random audio beginning with a phone message machine. Imagery doesn't move far from these grudgelike roots. Seems to basically trace a self-destructive guy's relationship with an enabler girlfriend that taught him the value of life--and how he wasn't valuing life enough to be with her. Kind of like what would happen if Saw met Oprah and developed an Afterschool Special.

Song 214: The Boy Least Likely To, "Be Gentle With Me." This is peppy, tinkly. Nice turns of phrase ("I'm happy because I'm stupid"). The music flows merrily along always undercut by the lyrics. Seems to have a chorus sung by Fraggles. Clever.

Song 215: The Hold Steady, "Banging Camp." More rock. Has an alternating opening, seems fairly retro. The lead singer's voice seems mixed kinda high over the music tracks; they sound very separate, which is not what I would want from this kind of music. There's some aspect of it that sounds like posturing punk rap and is off putting--a bit like the child of Randy Newman and that kid who just wanted a Pepsi (you know who I mean).

Song 216: Lady Sovereign, "Fiddle with the Volume." I can't remember why I bought this. An electronica Missy, same sexual innuendo but with fewer slamming beats and more turnkey electronic sound effects.

Song 217: Mute Math, "Control." Starts pretty-emo but picks up some rockishness. It has a vintage new wave feel, reverbs and synth-y drums. The vocalist has a nice voice, a slight sense of urgency. I'm actually thinking this sounds like a Rick Springfield for the aughts, which is not a terrible thing in the end.

148 to go.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Songs 209 to 211

And, once more. I'm almost done with my first three diss chapters. My bib has exploded to over 130 sources; all of which I've actually read. How did people ever do their dissertations pre-Internet? I can vaguely remember a time before email, I guess, but I do know that if I were not able to lock myself away upstairs with wireless access, oodles of online databases and e-journals, two-day Amazon prime, and my sleeping dog, I would never be cranking this astoundingly groundbreaking bit of scholarship out. I've been so engrossed that I put off my mani/pedi until today, even though I've had a broken nail since Sunday--cleverly camo'd with a series of Barbie bandaids. This, dear readers, is dedication. Okay, before I break for beauty, here are a few more songs.

Song 209: Babyshambles, "Kilamangiro." Oh, Pete Doherty, you are so very British--a Little Lord Fauntleroy druggie. The band is very brit-ty as well, but maybe not in the supersheen manner of Oasis. More like a stumbling into the pub, sad kind of band (think late-stage Replacements for a US version). Hope the implant works out for you.

Song 210: Tokyo Police Club, "Nature of the Experiment." A new wave-y song with a distorted mix. It has a nice, cold, clinical feel to it. Very distanced. It turns out they're Canadian, but this isn't the hippie-collective Canada. Well worth 99.

Song 211: The Go! Team, "The Power is On." I like the high school gym wall of sound in this song. It's like I'm at a pep rally in my kitchen without bleacher butt. This would likely be very inspirational par-tay music. Fun!

154 to go.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Songs 200 to 208

Back once more. Went to Kansas City this week for a short conference and found that the earth was apparently melting there. I had no idea there was so much wealth in KC. I met up with friends from another college who had wisely equipped themselves with a rental car, and we drove into the city through a highly capitalized neighborhood. Swanky. Plus, we saw a mini-twister on the way home from dinner (brisket tacos!). Exciting. Before going on this trip, I managed to convince my uber-understanding spouse that the one thing that would kick my exercise regime into even higher gear was a dog, and I just happened to find the perfect one: a basset-blend at a local rescue shelter. I arranged to meet her when I got back from KC, but a lovely 3+ hour delay in an airport short of planes, flight crews, air conditioning, and seats at the Chili's-lite scotched those plans. (Note to dear readers: you know you're in trouble in an airport when you strike up a conversation with a bunch of military personnel who refer to the terminal you're in as appearing like a "third world country," since they actually have a frame of reference for same.) Fearing I would never get home that night, I quickly bought Bergdorf Blondes and finished it before my mega-delayed flight finally took off--nice trash that, along with a bag of gummi bears, really took the edge off the wait. I was able to meet and bond with the dog the following day, and she's now home with us. What a cutie! She'd been kicking around the shelter for a bit, so they were delighted that someone was so excited to get her. Before I forget, I also have to document the particularly surreal sensation of seeing Pharrell (very preppy) and KW on Good Morning America's Concert Series last Friday. The song was bleeped constantly. It was fabu! But, before the dog and I hunker down in my writing garrett for a rapid book chapter turnaround followed by a wrap-up on my first three dissertation chapters, I thought I'd log some iTunes-time.

Song 200: Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, "Mondo Bongo." I just caught about half of Mr. and Mrs. Smith and quickly bought this song. I love that movie. Please, who wouldn't leave their spouse for Angelina Jolie. I think both she and George Clooney get a free pass on that topic (I flipped over at the end and saw Out of Sight on another channel: an almost perfect movie). This is a great song: seductive, personal, political, sad, beautiful.

Song 201: The Fifth Dimension, "Stoned Soul Picnic." I remember an old 5D album with a Leroy Nieman cover that my parents had. This is such an awesome summer song. And the production is so precise. Plus, "surrey down"? How can you beat that? Groove on, 5D!

Song 202: Tony Bennett, "He Loves and She Loves." I heard a replay of Terry Gross's interview with Mr. Bennett whilst driving around this week. This interview, coupled with the times I've seen him and Jancee Dunn's piece on him in her book, have convinced me that Tony Bennett is perhaps the most awesome human being ever. This is a beautiful, soft, melancholy valentine song that I've always loved, and his delivery is spot-on. Happy birthday, Mr. Bennett.

Song 203: Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, "Stranger Things." Cute album cover art (a new feature in the latest iTunes download). This is a good song, very straight ahead, that sounds kind of retro in some indefinable way. Her voice actually sounds younger than it used to, which is weird.

Song 204: Fink, "Pretty Little Thing." This was a free download. It has the standard accousto-backing track (strum and pop). His vocals are also fairly nondescript--and the lyrics are almost parodic, though I think unintentionally so. (He looks very Rasputin-y and unironic on his website.) But, it was free.

Song 205: The Format, "Oceans." I cannot remember downloading this. It really isn't very good. The chorus is okay, but overall the song is annoying. Maybe this is another mistaken click. Sorry. Don't spend 99 on this song.

Song 206: Gym Class Heroes, "The Queen and I." Surprisingly, this isn't based on Sue Townsend's rather funny novel from the 90s. Instead, it's a kicky song, quasi-funk/punk/hip hop done full-on skater style. I like the "hey, hey, hey" choruses. I've never heard of them before, but they are on the Snakes on a Plane soundtrack. That's all I needed to know.

Song 207: The Mutts, "I Us We You." I've never heard of them either. Sonic distortion rock that sounds very 70s initially kind of coupled with Chris Issac vocals. Sounds dirty on several levels. Different and quite listenable. ("British people," says my husband with a tone of both scorn and admiration.)

Song 208: Puffy AmiYumi, "Sunday in the park." Wow, I thought this was a made-up Cartoon Network band, and then I learned they have several albums. Of course, that didn't stop the Partridge Family or the Monkees or Pink Lady and Jeff, I guess. This is very Japanese: kind of like the plastic sushi version of American music. Still, like plastic sushi and Lost in Translation, I find it remarkably appealing.

157 to go.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Songs 191 to 199

And, we're back. I took some time off while we ran around the region on parent-visitations and then a nice mini-vaca at a funky old-school beach cottage complete with outdoor shower and picket fence. I never used to like the beach--too much exposure, but now that we have kids, I have absolutely no body image issues and will plunk down in the sand right next to a teenage hottie without thinking twice. Mainly, this is due to my children's absolute adoration of the beach: sand, waves, shells, birds, shovels and sandcastles. You name it; if it seems beach-y, they love it. While at the funky cottage, I finished Kaaterskill Falls--fantastic, and ripped through Tilly Bagshawe's Showdown--almost the same book as Adored but sub horses for movies. We've also started reading the Pirates! Adventures with . . . books to the kids. These seem more interesting for us than them, but they keep asking for more. After this trip (which culminated in my getting the Coach briefcase of my dreams--see earlier posts), I became involved in a protracted dispute about a car repair that could run several pages. Suffice it to say, I shall never buy a VW again and--if it were possible--would drive mine to the VWoA headquarters and set fire to it. However, as my husband reminds me, we kinda need this car, and it isn't yet paid off. Still, it's very tempting. I've also compiled my 8 page dissertation bibliography, completed a mind-numbing 4 hour online driver's course, and took the kids to The Ant Bully--quite good and we capped it off with a run through the car wash, which is always a mega-hit. It really takes so little. Now, for my first catch up edition, I'm going full-on white girl rap/hip-hop--lots of feel-good oldies and some scary new stuff. Parental advisory duly noted . . .

Song 191: Chamillionaire and Krayzie Bone, "Ridin'." Okay, first off, the name Chamillionaire is totally bril! This is dirty South, rapid rhythm rap. Apparently, others (read: the man) are always trying to catch Mr. Chamillionaire "Ridin' Dirty." As fast as the Cham is, Mr. Krayzie Bone tops him by at least two. As might be guessed by the title, this is a great slo-drivin' song. Plus, it has a nice social commentary rap about being stopped for DWB and ends with an accident. Given that I just finished online driving school, I feel Mr. Chamillionaire's pain.

Song 192: Coolio, "Fantastic Voyage." Yep, this is old, but it's such a major summer rip-up. Remember when Coolio seemed slightly scary? Kids, this is way pre-fify. Now, he's full-on Tom Joyner Family Reunion fare, but this song still kicks it--and I really wanted it on my iPod!

Song 193: Destiny's Child, "Bug-a-Boo." Another oldie. Remember the drumline pre-Drumline video? A fabu song from back in the day before Beyonce became a brand and a Jay-Z subsidiary. And, its with the original, four girl line-up. More female empowerment than exotic dancer, and the constant tinkling percussive sounds rock.

Song 194: Digable Planets, "Rebirth of Slick (Cool like Dat)." Alterna-hip hop classic--you know, the kind of rap that white grad students liked. I named one of my son's quilts "digable planets," and when looking at it the other day, wondered, "Whatever happened to them?" Well, of course, there they were, in the giant iTunes universe, gruving away.

Song 195: Ludacris and Shawna, "Stand Up." I absolutely love the beats and groove in this song--and still think Luda has one of the best voices in rap. This is a club narrative classic, such a great scene. Listen and I dare you not to "move . . . just like that."

Song 196: Trick Daddy, "I'm a Thug." Even though this is probably actionably similar to Jay-Z's"Hard Knock Life" in structure, I still love it. Senuously speedy Southern rap with a kid chorus counterpoint. Another oldie, but it has such a winking style about it. It's hard to resist his delivery of "Baby, 'Cause I'm a Thug."

Song 197: Twista, "Overnight Celebrity." This song is so cleverly and perfectly cynical in the way it captures the culture of celebrity. Fast rap over wicked, wicked beats with wonderful electro-captures. Twista had some behind the scenes KW production, which really shows. "Tha way we mold 'em right"--absolutely spot on. (Plus, check out his site for a remarkably unaffected personal msg from Twista.)

Song 198: Shakira f/ Wyclef Jean, "Hips Don't Lie." Is this hip hop? I don't know. She's certainly got hips. This is a real next millennium song: all cultures in one mash up. Haitian? Colombian? Lebanese? Yes, on all counts. I might have mixed her vocals a bit lower; they seem a bit too surfacey. Still, how you can beat a song that name checks Tupac's time with Digital Underground and gets your booty moving on the flat world?

Song 199: Strange Fruit Project, "Good Times." Old school feeling rap with a modern dance party feel. If you cut the cursing from Dead Prez, threw them in a blender with P-Funk, and seasoned with some Shakira-y production, you'd have Strange Fruit Project. Maybe the next step in hip hop? Good block party music.

166 to go.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Songs 181 to 190

I just got back from a few days at a meeting in DC. It was in Dupont Circle, which I have to confess is one of my fav DC areas (and not just because of Kramerbooks). I like to wander around the embassies and neighborhoods with all the wonderful front gardens (lots of hostas!). And, I like all the little restaurants spilling over with life. In the few hours between my landing and walking into (no kidding) two 8 hours-straight days of meetings, I got to catch the renovated Phillips, such a lovely space, with the fabu Klee show and then a super cool Greek Isles embroidery exhibit at the Textile Museum. The latter particularly struck me, and I stood for some time thinking about the hours spent not just completing the embroidery but calculating how to get some seriously stunning visual effects with a simply needle and thread. I think the president went past my room twice. It was interesting to watch the serpentining SUVs from above. Being in airports and on planes also gave me a chance to catch up on my reading, so I finished Ishiguro's absolutely heartbreaking Never Let You Go (gosh that book has a fascinating narrator, so well done) and started Goodman's Kaaterskill Falls--which has been quick going and beautifully observed thus far (I'm coming to this only after reading Intuition, which I think did not get the press it deserved). Before leaving, I downloaded this weird iTunes compilation called "Indoor Picnic"--it was just $3.99. So, all of these songs come from that; I've never heard of any of these artists, so these are all first impressions.

Song 181: Abigail Washburn, "Fall on My Knees." Very O'Brother-y, but the pickin' feels a tad new age-y, too. That about says it.

Song 182: Trespassers William, "My Hands Up." Starts fairly ambiently; then it gets a Sundays-like vocal layered on. Pretty sweep to the music, but it's more background than foreground--and is long.

Song 183: Hem, "Not California." The name of the band reminds me of the secret Caruso-country in Heavenly Creatures. Pretty girl vocals over standard alterna-folk instrumentation. It has some nice harmonies that add to it and some anger. Quite listenable but a bit formulaic.

Song 184: Venus Hum, "Pink Champagne." Art school electronica that's a little robotic and seems to have some kind of pretension to hip-hopishness. Lots (wait, LOTS) of sounds, but this kind of song was a lot better sans-electro in the Waitresses days.

Song 185: Kirsty Hawkshaw, "Reach for Me." Brit-girl alterna-pop. Catchy and full-on radio friendly without being Natasha Beddingfield (thank god).

Song 186: Be Good Tanyas, "Scattered Leaves." Super cool name, less cool song. Like a lower register trio of Melody-s. Too earnest and warbly for me. Canadian.

Song 187: Griffin House, "The Guy that Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind." Super cool song name. Very folky in the 70s sense. Has a nice nostalgic feeling (kinda "It Ain't You Babe" vibe). Also, you've got to read his website bio. I believe this is completely serious. And, the minute I read that Bill Flanagan loved him, it all made sense.

Song 188: Leigh Nash, "Angel Tonight." Poppy girl vocal number. I think I've heard this before--maybe on a show or romantic tv movie or something. Fairly by the numbers but pleasant. Oh, okay, I just visited the website and this is the chick who used to lead Sixpence None the Richer. That's why it sounds familiar.

Song 189: Adrienne Pierce, "Arizona." The instrumentation has a weird ominous tone to it that doesn't quite match the vocals, which are fairly derivative of about a million other girly girl singers. Apparently she's both like an Arizona desert and the Hoover dam. I get that all the time.

Song 190: Old Crow Medicine Show, "Down Home Girl." This is related neither to the fantastic album by the Dream Syndicate nor to Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Still, it's a bit entertaining. Vaguely Dylan-esque vocals with a harmonica emphasis. Certainly different from all the MOR emo out there, I'll give them that.

175 to go (over half way home!!!)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Songs 171 to 180

In a recent post, mrdardy mentions that he visited my family with his son. The power of my children is such that within mere hours, they had converted a child who readily goes to sleep each night around 8:30 (that would be lil' mrdardy) into a nonsleeping zombie (a la my two). I have a remarkable number of pictures of my children sleeping considering how infrequently they do it. This--among other fears for my longevity--has led me to begin waking by 6 am (ew!) so that I can walk each morning. In addition to leaving me feeling energized (which it actually and surprisingly does), my walk provides me a wonderful opportunity to listen to the massive number of songs I've downloaded. This is usually quite fun, except when I have the iPod on shuffle and suddenly Captain Feathersword pops up (btw, my children have reached the stage that they request the iPod be taken on trips for musical entertainment--and they loooove "Amos Moses," which actually once ended my son's 10 minute screaming fit within about 10 seconds, enabling me to order a much needed venti latte at the SB drive-thru). The walk also gives me a chance to hold an ongoing internal dialogue about which of my neighbors have lawn/garden services. I'm praying that a great many do, for if they don't, it says something rather horrid and depressing about my landscaping abilities.

Song 171: The Hives, "Hate to Say I Told You So." An older song, but rockin' good news, nonetheless. I love rock with snotty, angry, and entirely unjustified attitude--and this song hits all three in spades. Nice cymbal work, too!

Song 172: + / -, "Summer Dress 1." Oddly, this is classified as "rock" by iTunes. It's not; it's more like alterna-folk/pop. The lead singer's voice has a refreshing difference about it; the song has the same swirly feeling that the Badly Drawn Boy song of earlier did. Maybe this is one of my new favorites subgenres: swirly pop. The lyrics do a great job of setting a scene and a place with longing. Pretty.

Song 173: Muse, "Supermassive Black Hole." Distorto-rock with falsetto vocals. Maybe this is what would happen if Steve Albini produced Prince. It also has a weird, Sweet-like 70s feeling. All in all, it certainly doesn't sound like most of what's out there now. Good layering. There's something about it that keeps the distortion from sounding threatening in any way (unlike, say PJ Harvey or Tricky).

Song 174: Brightblack Morning Light, "Black Feather Wishes Rise." Slow, druggy sound--like a freight train moving through aspic--that stays constant throughout. Sit back and mellow out, dude readers. Has some interesting percussion about halfway through that rises and then disappears. Would have been better a bit shorter.

Song 175: The Roots (f/Cody Chestnutt), "The Seed, 2.0." This is an older song, too, but I really wanted it on my iPod. I love The Roots; they're so laidback cool. The song moves along to a great backing track (cymbal-on ?uestlove!) with some intriguing distortion of its own. A true headbopper.

Song 176: Burt Bacharach & Elvis Costello, "Toledo." My husband informed me we own this on CD, but it's a pain to upload these, so I dropped 99 to get it. I like the song, especially the bit about the source of the city name and how blissfully unaware we are about the past that's evoked by a place (for example, I live down the block from a subdivision filled with palm trees called "Cambridge Forest"). I also love the hushed BB production--so soft focus.

Song 177: Koop, "Waltz for Koop." I swear I've heard this song before. It's one of those continental revival tunes--very lounge 60s. Think montage of Vegas or Monte Carlo signs with a lovely couple: she in a mega upswept coif and venetian gown; he in big bow tie, tight tux, shiny shoes. Very non-America and, yes, swirly!

Song 178: josh kramon, "Supernatural Supergirl." Really, really jangly guitar and a wah wah and harmonica to boot. Kinda Beck-y. Partially delivered through a megaphone, lots of vocal shifts and effects, heavy 70s feel. Fun summer song.

Song 179: Thrice, "Atlantic." Starts like an updated "Tubular Bells," then goes into a standard electronica-loop with lost boy vocals. Picks up after the opening but in a kind of standard way. Nothing particularly wrong about it. Easy listening for the aughts, I guess.

Song 180: Office, "Wound Up." This is new wave-y, retro pop. Lots of instruments--kind of overwhelm the vocals. Very percussive, including handclaps near the end.

185 to go.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Songs 161 to 170

Wow, long time no post. First, I had to put the wraps on a book chapter so that I could quickly fall behind on the next one. Then, I had to squirrel away in my garret to work on my first two dissertation chapters. And, somewhere in between, I had a vacation ruined by a tropical storm, had my refrigerator die and then be resurrected, planted an entire garden of hostas, started a morning walking ritual, kept the house clean, read Jancee Dunn's book (very, very satisfying!), read some article in the local paper about some odious new parent classification called grups (guess what guys, your kids are supposed to be cooler than you, don't try so hard), drove all over the state for various meetings, and continued to avoid my blood work. I'm certain there's more in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, I ordered a bundt pan in the shape of a sandcastle that I saw in Cookie magazine, and amazingly, the cake does come out exactly like a sandcastle. A huge hit around la casa! As is Supergroup. God luv ya, Bas! Also, I apparently owe the orange from television an apology. I am absolutely certain his friend's band is the perfect fit for some, just not me. (Gosh, now I sound like that Brit-guy from "So You Think You Can Dance" apologizing to that dishrag girl for saying she was like the Corpse Bride.) And, anyway, I've come to the sad realization that about 75 percent of all alterna-bands sound exactly alike, making it difficult to download anything without thinking, "Have I heard this already?"

If I have any dear readers and they have any dear suggestions for bands of note, I'll take them!

Song 161: New Edition, "Can You Stand the Rain." No, I'm not that desperate for songs; I was just hit with a major nostalgia for the NE boyz because this album was super big when I wrote my Master's Thesis--as were fades, which I see KW is attempting to bring back. It is a completely fantastic song, though, and one can actually buy the entire NE Heartbreak CD on iTunes for less than $7. From such great heights.

Song 162: Headlights Headlights, "Everyone Needs a Fence to Lean On." Slo-mo, emo initially, then it perks up a bit. Nice driving beat. It is true that "everybody's got their enemies," as I can testify! It ends downbeat again. Okay.

Song 163: Badly Drawn Boy, "Once Around the Block." Okay, I've heard about BDB (not BBD, fade out) for a while and avoided them for the too-cool factor. That name, so precious. But, this is a kick booty song. It's swirling and fun, life affirming! Good vocals, fore and aft, riding the wave. Nice scratchiness. Well done, BDB, I stand corrected. You are just cool enough.

Song 164: Broken Social Scene, "7/4 (Shoreline)." This is a bit too samey. I've heard these drums, this hum before. It has an interesting mix to the vocals and roughs up a little as it goes along. But, still, I feel I've heard this before. The loud to soft; the overall distortion. I have the sense it would be better to see this band live; it's probably some collective experience.

Song 165: Islands, "Rough Gem." Wow, the opening of this song sounds like a Prince song (If I Was Your Girlfriend, specifically) through a kiddie organ and drum kit. This is a peppy little number though I'm not sure the energy is served by the song itself, which is kinda all over the place (maybe this is intentional given the title--but it's a fine line between bathos and pathos). Much as with Prince these days, an editor would help.

Song 166: Busta Rhymes, "Touch It." As were all over-forty mothers of two who should be working on their dissertations, I was watching the BET awards last weekend and caught the one-off awesome performance of this song by Busta and his dozen friends (including Em, himself!) . This is an interesting piece; sometimes it sounds like old school Busta and then at times Panther-era LL. The chorus is definitely hypnotic. The song has about six remixes already. I went for the original version.

Song 167: Lil' Jon, "Snap Yo Fingers." I love Lil' Jon! He is so perfect a creation; plus, my son does a dead on LJ, sans dreads. This song absolutely fascinates me. It seems to reveal the minimalism of its composition so intentionally. As if Lil' Jon were daring himself to make a hit out of the lamest few notes possible and get all of us to krunk along. And, of course, he does. I lift my full-on white suburban mom goblet (that would be the Starbucks latte cup) to salute you, Lil Jon! (Fun takes one to a site of a port-a-potty manufacturer.)

Song 168: Kate Havnevik, "Sleepless." This is a beautiful song. She sounds a bit like an accessible Bjork, but this seems more a function of the song's arrangement than her voice. (Though the geography has a some kind of spooky influence, to be sure, on all those Iceland/Norway triangle folks.) The lyrics are more straightforward (no volchainos), and her voice is more upper register, no growling. But, it's clearly the voice of an adult--a break from all the little girl losts out there. Nice.

Song 169: Rachel Yamagata, "Be Be Your Love." Another grown-up woman song. Nice sense of longing, anger, and loss. The song almost leans forward into itself trying to reach something. It has a post-chanteuse feel.

Song 170: Asobi Seksu, "Thursday." Supposedly the next big thing, what with the coming of the Asian cultural revolution. (Hey, if that means I can look like Maggie and be lovingly photographed by Yimou Zhang, I'm all for it; if instead it means some Blade Runner-y thing, I'll pass). This is more like vintage shoe gaze with an upbeat march feel that's quite conducive to a number of 80s dances. Odd combo.

195 to go.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Songs 152 to 160

I swear I am listening to music. I'm just not writing about it. I even took my iPod to the Pres's Retreat and fell asleep on a swing on the porch looking at the Gulf while listening to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack and then wowed everyone at dinner by using my iTrip to pipe in music to eat by . We're about to head off for a few day family-vaca-at-the-beach, just in time for a tropical depression to ruin it, so I thought I'd write again. I actually have been listening to a bunch of new songs while finishing quilting one of my billion-piece tops from when I had time to thoughtfully compose 63 stars from about 900 different fabrics. Those were the days! Anyway, I've now decided that I must have been loony and will no longer make anything bigger than a lap. Of course, this work was done in avoidance of working on either my dissertation or my book. I've also been avoiding this work through reading. On my most recent business trip I did finish On Beauty, which seemed overpopulated, overlong, and bereft of anyone worth one's investment of time. Too bad. I'm still slogging my way through the expanded The World is Flat--one word: editor. And, I just ordered a bunch of trashy summer stuff, including Jancee Dunn's auto and the new Tilly Bagshawe (I finished her Adored in Charlotte last summer when I was stuck overnight at the airport--fabu!). And, over a month into my new clean home ethos . . . it's still clean. Plus, we resorted to paying someone to put together the big toy in the backyard which was worth every penny. So, I'm now out of excuses and after this short trip, I'll return to the doctoral grindstone. And, on to the music!

Song 152: Tally Hall, "Good Day." Kind of Queen-ish--especially the beginning and very much the end. It seems a bit overpacked, like they're trying to show you all they can do in one song. It does sound different that most of the pressboard alterna-emo out there, I'll grant you that.

Song 153: Pinback, "Penelope." I like this song. It starts nicely sing-songy and fey-folky then the drums kick in and add some depth and a wooshing movement forward. This is also different than a lot of what I've heard. Has a cooling hypnotic quality.

Song 154: Her Space Holiday, "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend." If Weezer weren't such a post-downer now, they might sound a bit like HSH. (They both seem like one man outfits.) This is a peppy I'm-a-loser song with a nice sampled structure and a regularly interrupting guitar mash. Fun!

Song 155: Finley Quaye, "Even After All." There's a Clef-quality to his vocals but without the self-aggrandizing. Nice voice, mellow vibe; perfect for rhythmic head bobbing and swaying. Groovy romantic sadness.

Song 156: Robinella, "I Fall in Love as Much as I Can." Very vintage, perfect for a romantic comedy feel to this one. Upbeat, bouncy, clever. My daughter is snapping her fingers and dancing to it as I write this--what more can I say?

Song 157: Nobody and the Mystic Chord of Memory, "Coyote's Song." This is an odd admixture, kind of like a Native American Polyphonic Spree tune. It's catchy in a weird way. I can't really find a website for the act, which seems to be a one-off collaboration. Interesting.

Song 158: Katie Melua, "Just Like Heaven." Yep, it's the Cure song. She moves it in an AOR direction that actually brings out the delicacy of the songwriting. I do have a sense, though, that her voice would grate if I had more than this one song on my iPod.

Song 159: Tunng, "The Pioneers." This completely reminds me of someone, and I'm wracking my brain to think of who it is. I do like this song; the enunciation is so precise and distancing. The electronic adds a sheen of creepy cool.

Song 160: Corinne Bailey Rae, "Put Your Records On." She's got a bit of a buzz about her now, and this song justifies it. It's mellow brit-soul with nice sing-song phrasing; a very summery song (think floating sundresses and breezy curtains).

205 to go.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Songs 141 to 151

Back for more post-mani/pedi and pre-bedroom cleaning. Before moving forward, let me say that I find Taylor Hicks really odd; he looks like the weird every-age guy who works at the Lil' Champ, and he sounds like Michael McDonald. This is the next big thing? Perhaps on QVC. At least that McPhee chick has a Mandy Moore-ish quality; maybe she can be on Entourage this season. On another note, I can't believe that I've now listened to 151 songs, almost all by artists I never knew existed. This has been so fun. And, dear reader, buy the Weepies CD; it is a real keeper. My son and I shared the iPod-phones and danced around to them yesterday whilst watching the rain fall heavily outside. The grin on his face was absolute magic!

Song 141: The Album Leaf, "Twenty Two Fourteen." I don't think I realized this was an instrumental when I downloaded it. It sounds a bit like Sigur Ros for those who are afeared of Hopelandish. (Wow, I wrote this before seeing on their website that they record with SR musicians at the SR studio. I'm so with it--and they're so treading the line between homage and theft.) Kinda trancey and long.

Song 142: Asylum Street Spankers, "Breathin'." The name intrigued although the use of the apostrophe frightened. The song is a nice retro number: think rolled hair, red lips, seamed hose, and print dress. This is classic dinner party music: pleasant but not intrusive. I'd listen to more.

Song 143: Charlatans UK, "Blackened Blue Eyes." Yes, they are totally still around and totally sound the same. Full on Manchester in the house! This song offers the same mix of snotty brit and bright light ecstacy dance that we know and love. Fun nostalgia that still rocks.

Song 144: Earlimart, "All They Ever Do Is Talk." A bit slow moving, which I'm guessing is the band's style since they seem very comfortable in it, but it leaves me slightly bored. The song picks up a little in the chorus, though this particular sonic rush seems a little cribbed from so many others. Eh.

Song 145: Embrace, "Ashes." This has a post-anthemic feeling--driving beat, assured but longing vocals, rounded up chorus. A style of music that seems to me particularly English, made for big soccer stadiums and much arm waving. Think Robbie Williams' "Angels." Of course, after I wrote this, I found the Embrace website and learned they've recorded an official World Cup song. Told ya!

Song 146: The Faders, "No Sleep Tonight." Another sexualized female empowerment rocker. This one has a nice driving drumbeat that move it forward. It kind of has a threatening inevitability about it rather than a fun sassiness though. A joyless anthem for the Girls Gone Wild world.

Song 147: The Glands, "When I Laugh." Opens kind of folky before moving into pop-ish rock, and the lead singer's voice is nasal-y and Dylan-y. But it seems purposely so and is a bit to affected. It's catchy but disposable. I can't find any official Glands site, but it seems they're from Athens. So you can probably drive over and find them there; if you do, tell them their webmaster needs to write better code so that their site can be located. (While searching, I found the official website for the Universal Zulu Nation, who knows why, so what the hey, here it is.)

Song 148: Ivy, "Edge of the Ocean." This song veers near the Enya riptide but is saved by some mild electronica. It's a bit Dido-y but rockier and more soundscape-y. It's good music for background, but from this song, I'd say a little goes a long way.

Song 149: Louque, "Art." This is a good song. I don't know anything about the band (it seems to come from Lousiana). The chorus is catchy; its got a soul/hip-hop/electronica vibe that I would usually peg as British. It almost feels like an updated SoulIISoul; a new house vibe.

Song 150: Michelle Featherstone, "Sweet, Sweet Baby." A very pretty and touching song. Her voice is clear and rides nicely over the instrumentation. It's not cloying or precious. There is an element of Sheryl Crow here I think, but Ms. Featherstone is not trying so hard to be ripped and cool. I like this.

Song 151: West Indian Girl, "What Are You Afraid Of." Not this song (get it?). This is a nice update of the vein mined by Lush in the 1990s. There's a real sense of musical place here; someplace other than where I'm sitting, some aural plane. It's cool and trippy. I like the song, though the text on the band's website creeps me out only slightly more than its photos.

215 to go.

Songs 136 to 140

Wow, being a single parent is tough. My husband was away for a week and a half, during which I decided that I would become a whole new person . . . well, at least as it concerns housecleaning. So, for over 2 weeks, I have kept my house "up" on a regular basis and have been amazed at what it does for the psyche. But, whew!! Between that, work, writing, and running after my children, it kinda takes away the blogging time. Still, I have been listening to a passel of new songs (mostly in my car and again while whipping out a new porch quilt once my husband got home), so here goes. Oh, I discovered the NPR book podcast, which is nice "binding a quilt" listening. Oh, and I changed my numerical format for the titles as part of my lifestyle streamlining. Oh, and this is the all-J edition of SAFTBRC.

Song 136: Jeannie Ortega, "Crowded." A free iTunes download that's disposable fun. She completely sounds like J-Lo and Papoose sounds like Jay-Z. But, the song has a cool, Indian-ish opening and a very funny shout-out to R. Kelly. If repurposed, it would actually make a great Bollywood song.

Song 137: Jens Lekman, "Black Cab." This has a Brit-Replacements feel--hung-over ennui played out over a kind of Mersey beat instrumentation (but I think he might be Canadian). It's catchy in a downer way. The content really reminds me of the end to Elizabeth Bowen's "Demon Lover," which I'm sure is what he was going for.

Song 138: Jon Brion, "Knock Yourself Out." I Heart Huckabees has been on a bunch this month; I really love Marky Mark's performance in that movie. This song is from the film and is nicely hum-able in that Jon Brion way, where the lyrics are undercut by the music (or vice versa). Short and sweet.

Song 139: Jose Gonzalez, "Heartbeats." I know this is from an ad, but I can't remember for what . . . something involving a car. It's really beautiful and simple, kind of hypnotic actually. This song can cure high blood pressure, I'm certain. Put it on a loop and sit back.

Song 140: Jaymay, "Gray or Blue." She really reminds me of Nellie McKay: kind of precious and quirky. Still, the song is appealing--a tale of love thwarted by friendship that still leaves room for the longing and hope. The music perks along nicely and fits well with her vocals.

225 to go.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Songs One-Hundred Thirty Two to Thirty Five

Happy Mother's Day Weekend! In celebration, I downloaded two complete albums today--to show I'm old(er) and hip(per): the new Paul Simon and Beirut albums. You'll find a song from each below. We're heading off to a watermelon festival in a little bit for good, sticky, old timey fun, so on to the music. Oh, I'm supposed to tell everyone that we watched the Tom Sawyer-end of an HD Rush concert last night, and Geddy Lee was playing through a front loading washer dryer. I'm betting this would have made some sense if we had tuned in before the last 5 minutes, but then again, I would have had to watch more Rush. Yeah, that's fine.

Song 132: Ashley Monroe, "Satisfied." This is the free download of the week. If Anna Nalick were twangy, younger and slightly less talented, this could be her. Hey, it's free! And, the answer is that nobody ain't satisfied because we live under capitalism. See iTunes.

Song 133: Beirut, "Scenic World." Found this under new releases, and it's totally awesomely beautiful. A world music soundscape complete with accordians, synthesizers, and plaintive vocals. To my ears, it seems fairly original, which is a novel idea in today's indie landscape. I have no idea who this group is, but they rock!

Song 134: Paul Simon, "Father and Daughter." I love Paul Simon, can't help it. This is a very touching song, especially on a family weekend. I don't particularly like Brian Eno, but there's a nice wash of sound textures to this and other songs that can likely be credited to him. This song reminds me a great deal of Richard Wilbur's "The Writer"--a poem that like this song makes me tear up.

Song 135: The Rakes, "Work, Work, Work (Pub Club Sleep)" I don't remember downloading this. It has an overly long intro, standard 80s retro rock feel (with more cursing, though). An okay though basically forgettable song. If you lived in London, you could see them "play in a cave whilst eating a kebab." I admit that would pick this song up--a lot!!

230 to go.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Songs One-Hundred Twenty Five to Thirty-One

Ack. I don't know where I am in this thing, but whilst I wait for my son's underwear to dry for an overnight at the local gym (Note to self--buy more underwear for son, for god's sake), I'll knock out a couple tunes. But not before adding that it seems wrong that all my "vacation" days are spent on doctors' appts and laundry. At least I got a pedicure.

Song 125: The Spinto Band, "Oh Mandy." Not the Barry Manilow song--more twee (can you imagine?) and with faux-mandolins, I think. Turns "Mandy" into a three syllable name at points. Very post-post. I heard a bit today on the radio whilst driving to the doctor about some online emo band name generator. I thought of it during this song. Here are two: and

Song 126: Deerhoof, "Twin Killers." This is an awesome song. The opening guitar is backed by a landing flying saucer, and the little girl singer is balanced by perfectly angry, retro rock. It sounds like Cake without horns, fronted by a girl. Well done.

Song 127: Brendan Benson, "Cold Hands (Warm Heart)." Pleasant post-MOR. The instrumentation has a nice lyrical quality at points but at other points it's a bit overcooked. Listening to this, I can tell that Jack White is the king of the Raconteurs, since little of Mr. Benson seems to emerge.

Song 128: Rosa Chance Well, "Bell's Inn." This is a pretty song. It reminds me of another artist, but I can't place it right now. It has a slight alt-country flavor but takes this in a non-pandering direction that's nice. Their official website seems to have died, which doesn't bode well for the band, I guess.

Song 129: The Delgados, "All You Need is Hate." What a great slogan. The song begins with a wonderfully positive swell that is undercut by the lyrics--which are too, too true: "hate is all around." The dissonance between lyrics and music is reminiscent of "Dear God." The band has recently broken up, so maybe they needed a bit more than hate. Still, it's a cool song!

Song 130: Rogue Wave, "Publish My Love." The song balances its emo-ness with a wall of sound in a good way that adds some depth--though it has a hint of Coldplay about it. Very guitar-y. The singer seems in angry, guitar-y love with another, a love that cannot be "published." Clearly, they've never heard of the Star.

Song 131: Gnarls Barkley, "Crazy." I downloaded this song a while back pre-the Gnarls Barkley fever, based solely on the name. Who doesn't love Sir Charles? Though I would argue one could form a tribute band around him, as we all know now, this is a Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo project. Absolutely awesome!! It's driving, lilting, surprising Brit-Soul feeling. Out of all the songs in this post, it is the must listen.

234 to go.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Songs One-Hundred Twenty-One to Twenty-Four

Time to play catch-up again. It's been a busy week, and now it's time for a clean-the-house and build-a-big-toy weekend. The aforementioned big toy has been sitting in the garage for two weeks in three gi-normous boxes that were dropped off by a real life huge Yellow semi. The very nice guy who dropped them off told me he built one in an afternoon, but he was also able to execute a three point turn in my cul de sac while driving a truck the size of my house--to my applause, so his results may not be typical. On another front, I got invited this week to speak at a conference later this summer based on a to-be-published article, which was nice. And, I've given up my briefcase lust and traded it in for phone lust. Searching the web for the best price on an unlocked razr phone provides a nice break from writing memos and cutting budgets. Kind of offers a cool techno blue light at the end of the tunnel. Now, onto the music . . .

Song 121: The Dears, "Lost in the Plot." Starts out kind of techno then the instrumentation gets fairly familiar. The lead singer seems to be the surrogate-carried son of Morissey and Robert Smith. The band is from Canada, but on their website, they've trademarked their name, which seems a very unCanada thing to do. The song itself doesn't really hold together; it seems to be several different songs stuck together with homemade paste.

Song 122: Oasis, "Lyla." Okay, I'll admit up front that, though I only own one Oasis album, I just adore this band. Why? Let me turn to the band's website: "Noel is writing songs about queuing too long for a pint of milk and Liam is a whirlwind of inspiration and wondrous bullshit." Yay! I caught part of a recent concert on some HD station the other night, and it was grandly dysfuntional. This is a recent song, and it's standard Oasis and pretty good. I know they're having a resurgence in the UK, and this song makes me understand why. It's updated their sound a little, but the sneer of the disaffected and drunk remains. Ocassionally, when I'm away from home, my husband has called and left me random Noel or Liam quotes on my phonemail. Just another reason why I adore him, too.

Song 123: Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, "Beyond My Wildest Dreams." I read about this album in EW, and thought I'd give a song a try. (Note, the link is to a story about the album.) It really isn't nearly as good as it should be. The musical track is formulaic, and neither one is pushing any envelops vocally. Why get together to do something this mediocre? I guess this is kind of a Traveling Wilburys for the duet set. Disappointing.

Song 124: The Raconteurs, "Steady as She Goes." This is the free iTunes download this week. I love the White Stripes, all the anger, artifice and studied oddness. Jack White is part of this post-super group. The Raconteurs share the artifice (check out the website) but move musically in a slightly different direction. The song is acoustic yet dense and shares a lot of the White Stripes' production qualities. The most notable difference is the percussion (duh!) and a bit of mandolin-ness. The vocal harmonizing is nice, too; plus, this track catches Mr. White chuckling a bit. And, it's free!!

241 to go.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Songs One-Hundred Nineteen and Twenty

We took the kids to an ol' timey festival today, complete with churned butter, homemade biscuits, wagon rides, and fiddlin' and circle dancin'. We even threaded the needle! Great fun for all. But, this has left me behind on several home and work projects, so after blogging, I got to kick it in gear. I did manage to do some planting, edging, cleaning, and laundry yesterday--plus we went to the park and I snuck across the street during nap time to check out the new houses on the parade of homes (if only to reassure myself that our home value is going up, up, up). I had to drive to a small neighboring town yesterday morning for a work event and found a cool farmer's stand on the way back, so Sunday dinner will be roast eggplant soup with a caprese salad starter and berries and cream for dessert. As RR would say, yummo! Now, onto the tunes. Here's a fun one for 119, the Mad Caddies' "All American Badass." Cursing and an accordian--how can you go wrong? It reminds me of the polka fests of my youth about halfway through a day of drinking at the beer tent by everyone's parents. All dancing and singing until a beer gets bumped or a look gets thrown, then church fair or no church fair, it starts a flyin'. Who knew there was music for this? Another fun tune for 120, Amerie's "1 Thing." First, apparentely Beyonce never sued, so this can be seen as an homage (take that Opal Mehta-girl). Otherwise, this is essentially "Crazy in Love" sans Jay-Z. It's as danceable as they come, plus I swear she says "gooble, gooble, gooble" throughout which doesn't happen in a song every day. Very beach in the summer heat.

245 to go.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Songs One-Hundred Sixteen to Eighteen

A while back, mrdardy wrote that I should know Postal Service because the band was featured on the OC. Dear reader, I do not watch the OC. I barely have time for my TIVO'd 8th & Ocean (Oh, Vinci, will you never learn?). Plus, I only watch two pre-10 pm shows (The Office and Amazing Race) because my children do not fall asleep before 10. Notice I did not say, "do not go to bed," because they actually go to bed around 8:30. But, bed does not equal sleep. And, while it is remarkably cute to peek in on one's daughter expecting her to be asleep, only to find her wearing her light-up Minnie ears so that she can practice her letters in her dark room, it does put a damper on one's ability to do much else. Even when there's absolute silence upstairs, I will often find not a sleeping son but a son at work on a jigsaw puzzle . . . in the near dark. Somehow, our children inherited my type-A qualities and my husband's nocturnal tendencies, which will likely benefit their future employers immensely (uber workers for the flat world). Ah, but back to the OC, iTunes now has the official OC mix, from which the next two songs are drawn. Song 116 is Diefenbach's "Favourite Friend." How could I not download an "ou-favourite" song? This is has a vaguely Duran Duran feeling, something like Duran crossed with that band that did that song from the car commercial about the guy break dancing outside a diner (you know what song I mean). An okay tune. Song 117 is "Shuffle Your Feet" by the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. I actually became aware of the BRMC because they were on the reverse cover of an issue of Fader featuring Outkast (I was using it in a chapter on buzz marketing). This is quasi-60's folk, complete with harmonica and tambourine, and sing-a-longs. It's catchy, but you can really tell this is a "club" and not a gang. Maybe it's the tambourines. Song 118 is "Dimension" by Wolfmother, late of the recent SXSW buzz machine. It's currently a free(bird) download on iTunes. Man, download this song, slap on the big white headphones, turn on the black light, and chill whilst waiting for The Midnight Special to come on. Wolfmother is this side of the Darkness in that I think they're full on post-serious 70s rockers, with at least one white-guy 'fro. And, on their site, you can also hear a song called (I kind you not) "The White Unicorn." I so want to watch Dazed and Confused now.

247 to go.