Saturday, February 11, 2006

Songs Forty-Two and Forty-Three

(In my head, I am writing this entire section of the post in the voice of Lola from Charlie and Lola, so it might help to read it that way.) Why do I always want to put a "u" in forty? Do you, dear reader? It would look much nicer, don't you think? (gaze upon the possibility: fourty) Oh well, I still have a cold, but at least I'm at home--where I just put up my latest purchase: antique English stained glass windows. Apparently, folks salvage them as the English tear down their wee pre-fourties (ha! isn't it better) homes or rip out their lovely old tulip windows for double-paned efficiency. So, I bought two for my kitchen, and although they do not mask the pile of laundry that is judging me as I avoid folding it, they still look mighty nice. They remind me of Chester. It is also quite cold and dreary outside, so I shall be making chicken soup for dinner. And, yes, judgmental laundry, I shall find time to fold you--and even put you away. Although, I have found that the children love to play king of the hill on the laundry piles and jump in them as though they were piles of leaves, giggling like mad; yet another reason to chalk one up for sloth.

So, on to two more songs, in honor of the "bleak midwinter":

Song Forty-Two: Here's a downbeat, reverb tune from the Norweigian band, Flunk, "Morning Star." The intro to the song sounds very Bjork-ish, and the vocals seem to be delivered from another room. I can hear a separation between this track and the music ones. The lead singer has a cute accent as she attempts to wrap her glacial, way-northern voice around English. This band sounds a lot like the Cardigans but with a denser and heavier feel to the instrumentation. Nice but not quite distinctive enough. (Given the band's name, I am resisting puns with a steely will.)

Song Forty-Three: I have one Zero 7 song on the Garden State soundtrack, and I like it. I like this one, too, "Destiny." If you stripped the quirk from Morcheeba, you might end up with Zero 7. It has a moderated trip-hop vibe that glides you along, but it is one of those songs that you can listen to without really listening to it at all (if that makes sense). I would put this on a dinner party mix. It also has really layered production, and it would surprise me if the band sounded at all like this live. But, I have to admit an affinity for the thickness of heavily produced music; you can certainly hear where your 99 cents went!

322 to go.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Songs Forty and Forty-One

I'm on the road and on Sudaphed (actually Wal-phed, which is much cheaper), Halls, and massive fluids. Here's some news, you can now only buy Sudaphed directly from the pharmacist. Why? Couldn't the checkout clerk figure out something was suspicious if I tried to buy forty-eight boxes of the stuff? You need a PharmD to spot a fellow chemist? Whatever, my cold has made me a bit cranky--as you might sense. I did get to have a dream meal, though: Cracker Barrel followed by Krispy Kreme and Starbucks. If I were a rapper, my entire repetoire would consist of shout-outs to iconic food establishments and their signature dishes: "You're like Southwestern Eggrolls, boy; you're so hot and tasty. You're like 'hot donuts now,' boy; you're so white and pasty." Anyway, you get the point . . . I love trashy food!

Okay, I'm also channel-flipping and happened upon CSI. Did everyone get new hair? It looks like Death Cab for Cutie took lab jobs. I've worked in a lab and found there to be surprisingly little neon lighting and very few Tigi Bed Heads (well, actually, none).

So, on to two more songs, and I'm continuing my retro theme.

Song Forty: Bill Withers, "Lovely Day." This is just one of the best songs ever. It really captures all the redemptive power of love in a joyous bop-a-long. It can turn even a cranky cold-havin' girl into a sing-a-long queen (though you probably wouldn't want to listen!). The way he carries out "lovely day" makes me think of the whole day and the strength of his voice is the strength of his love. Everyone needs this song on their sad-day rolodex for its remarkable healing power.

Song Forty-One: Brothers Johnson, "Strawberry Letter 23." This is such an odd psychedelic funk song. I can remember the very first time I heard it in my Holly Hobbie decorated bedroom. The keyboard chorus, the uber-funk bass, the out-of-nowhere solos. It sounds like a mash-up of songs by the Moody Blues; Yes; Earth, Wind and Fire; the Commodores; and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus. And people think "Feel Good, Inc." is a weird song. Welcome to the 70s, love child, now git your swirly groove on!

324 more to go.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Thirty-Eight and Thirty-Nine

Let no one say that SAFTBRCAID does not honor Black History month. I am going to spotlight some of my historical favs--none of which I currently own and all of which recall wonderful radio days. Think of these next few posts as my all-star version of the Tom Joyner Sky Show (as produced by a white middle-aged woman). Oh, and I have to go to a meeting for the next few days (one of the highlights: staying at a hotel immediately behind a Cracker Barrel; it's the small things, dear readers). So I'm doubling up today and will post again later this week.

Song thirty-eight is not much of an oldie. It belongs to the lovely Jill Scott, "A Long Walk." This is Miss Scott's break-out hit from a few years back. She has a mesmerizing delivery that kind of got lost in comparisons to the wave of soul revivalists who arrived in the late 90s (think Erykah Badu). But, I think Miss Scott's voice has a depth and resonance that is lacking in this group; though much of her work does sound a bit samey (listen to this and then the much more recent "Golden" and try to argue). The song is evocative of 70s soul without being a shallow revival revamp. The production is lush, carried along by sharp percussion and classic backing vocals. This is a real lazy Sunday song with a nice girl empowerment bent to its romance.

Song thirty-nine is a great oldie. Up front I will admit that Evelyn 'Champagne' King's "Shame" is on my list of absolutely perfect songs ever recorded. I can still hear Casey Kasem telling the story of how little Evelyn was discovered singing as she followed her custodial-worker mother around each evening. Who cares if it's true--this is a fabulous story. Miss King's voice is a fantastic deep growl, and I doubt if we would ever have had a Mary J. Blige without her. The song has such a great urgency about it with the ultimate 70s disco era production of horns, electronic percussion, and that slight tinny sound that screams full-on, flashing multi-colored lights, mirror ball, spandex, gold chain, strappy heels dance fest. Listen and boogie, y'all. (Try not to dance, I dare you.)

326 to go.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Songs Thirty-Two through Thirty-Seven

Another catch-up edition, I'm afraid. I've been working on other things and then went to a two day quilting master-class. In this class, we had to abstract and stylize a flower and then realize our design in fabric. (While I really like my project, it will be a while before I want to look at red tulips again.) I worked on "opening up" my design, since I tend to pile stuff on, and I'm usually very folky in my work--so I was pushing myself to use VIBRANT color as opposed to the repro muddy and acid colors I gravitate to. As the teacher walked through the class, she did mini-critiques of our work, always with a very positive spin--though she still really struck some nerves. (I let her pull my whole piece apart and restart me in a new direction--it was really quite liberating!) At one point, I made an offhand comment about how the class and the process reminded me of last week's Project Runway, and boy howdy, this may have been a class in which I was considered a 42 year old "youngster," but about 2/3 of these women watch that show RELIGIOUSLY. I'll bet Bravo doesn't realize its strongest demo is quilters 55+. And, they all hate Santino and were really sad that "super sweet Hispanic gay guy" (translation, Nick) got voted off. Plus, apparently last episode, you could completely see Heidi's panty-line (I must have missed it): "You would think she, of all people, could get someone to design her a dress that fit." "Who wants to see that on a pregnant girl?" And, another admitted that--like me--she cried at Jay's collection last year because it was so beautiful. Fabric . . . the great uniter!

So, on to this week's four song catch-up, plus today's tune, and one to grow on for tomorrow.

Song Thirty-Two: The Magic Numbers, "Gone Are the Days." Starts simply and layers on and then pulls the layers off at points for emphasis. The drumming rolls the song forward in a nice way. Lead singer Romeo's voice is sweet, a bit breathy but not treacly--during some phrasing he actually sounds a bit like a peppier Neil Young. The song has a slightly sad feeling--nostalgic break-up. I'd definitely listen to more Magic Numbers' songs.

Song Thirty-Three: The Sleepy Jackson, "Miniskirt." Has kind of a country-rock vibe that feels a bit 70s AM radio--jangly and Chevy-van ready; and at points, it also has a Replacements kind of feel. Thus, to no surprise, there's a drunky slowness to the pacing: I can envision everyone who's playing sitting on pushed back chairs surrounded by empties. In the middle, there are instruments in here I can't completely identify at points, maybe something Australian-y like a wobbly board? It also has a megaphone background voice like in that Wings song about Uncle Albert. Fun retro that clearly doesn't take itself too seriously: "If I was a girl, I'd wear a miniskirt into town." Good luck with that!

Song Thirty-Four: The Pushstars, "Minnesota." Fast and poppy, with a mandolin, I think. The lead singer has an "I have a permanent cold" voice. Here's an odd observation: you can really hear the separation in the tracks between the vocals and the instruments. There's something about this song that sounds too much like the Rembrandts' Friends theme. You can really see this as the theme to a show about a fresh-faced Minneapolis native who's moved to the big city to make it big: a Mary Tyler Moore for the aughts.

Song Thirty-Five: Kings of Convenience, "I'd Rather Dance With You." Smooth, well-crafted pop from Norway, of all places. This is the place all you Swing Out Sister listeners can safely land (I'm right there with you!). The song moves along at a fast clip with clever lyrics about solving the trials of courtship by simply getting out there and shaking your booty-butt (as we say at our house). This is a very well-made song--think Volvo not Ikea (yeah, I know, but all those Scandanavian places merge together).

Song Thirty-Six: Citizen Cope, "Bullet and a Target." Clarence Greenwood (the voice behind CC) has a wonderful lazy delivery that does a great job of underselling the import of the lyrics so that you groove along and then think, "What did he just say?" Which I think is part of the power of the song--it kind of draws you into that space between the bullet and the target without your knowledge. I like this song, a lot. It has a great "clapping" chorus that propels things forward with a sense of urgency that contrasts with Greenwood's slowhand vocals. Interesting!

Song Thirty-Seven: Air, "Playground Love." This is the Air song we all know and love from the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. I don't own that CD, but loved the book (which I read years ago when my parents still lived in GPW, a suburb perfectly captured by the claustrophobic narrative) and the movie (wonderful). I thought I'd finally buy the song. There is a real density to it--everything is muffled and fuzzy, like you're listening to it through a heavy blanket. It has a narcotic-ly beautiful feel: dangerously slo-mo.

328 more to go.