Saturday, March 25, 2006

Songs Seventy-Eight to Eighty-Two

I'm still rushing through to catch up on my blog-gap. I forgot to mention that this morning in a fit of cleaning pique I decided to give much of my former grad life away. My current grad life relies nicely on data and electronically-available sources--much less dust. There's great liberation in letting loose a sneering snort whilst saying "Heidegger" or "Glas" or "subaltern" and throwing books into a box. And, as a way-working, grad-student mom of two, I find surprisingly little time to read feminist theory. (Though, I still held onto my Lacan. I'm telling you, that guy was onto something! What, I'm not sure, but something.) Plus, I've netted miles of bookshelf space for the much-lauded return of literature--and the movement of that literature out of my bedroom and living room. Now that theory is dead, I'm totally prepped for neo-new criticism; plus, novels have more beautiful covers, and I can finally lose myself in them again. Here's some music to read by . . .

Song Seventy-Eight: Saturday Looks Good to Me, "Meet Me by the Water." Another 60s-vibe tune. Wall of sound effects with sweet girl-y lead vocals. Lots of odd percussion, an out of nowhere saxomaphone. There's a nice echo effect on the lead vocals at points, as well. The song kind of deconstructs itself a bit preciously toward the end, though. I get it, you can work the studio equipment.

Song Seventy-Nine: Shout Out Louds, "Never Ever." The song has a whirling instrumental start that rolls up and down. Plaintive lead vocals that fit well with the driving guitars and percussion. They sound like a band that would be really good live; lots of random, head-bobbing dancing would ensue. There are lots of instrumental breaks that can get a bit repetitive--very much a musician's band, I think. Good song overall.

Song Eighty: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "By the Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth." Another alterna-critical fave. I remember hearing this song on the All Songs Considered year end review. Lead singer has one of those intentionally bad voices that grow on you. I've seen comparisons to David Byrne, but there's not the same cool distance here. It's more "deal-with-it" bad than "I've-really-been-working-on-this . . . a lot" bad. The music draws you in and sounds comfortingly familiar. I like the big drums! It is a little long. To quote Marianne Moore, concision is a virtue, boys.

Song Eighty-One: Stars, "Ageless Beauty." A wonderfully updated shoegazer type of tune. Lovely lead vocals streaming into a wash of sound that leaves me surprisingly uplifted. I like this very much and would definitely listen to more of the Stars, whom I'd never heard of before. Well done.

Song Eighty-Two: Dead Prez, "Radio Freq." The lasting influence of Dave Chapelle's Block Party. I'd heard of Dead Prez but never listened to them. This is a great song--a bouncing, raucous, clever condemnation of radio. Lots going on, but it never loses control. Short and to the point. I think Dead Prez will be among those sending me to the wall when the revolution comes, but I'll be bobbing my head the whole way.

283 to go.

Songs Seventy-Four to Seventy-Seven

Well, everyone is napping, and I just found an old box of remnant Mike and Ikes in the cabinet, so that's motivation enough to blow off the laundry for a few more minutes and push on with the tunes. As I write, in front of me is my non-winning Georgia "megamillions" ticket. While in Atlanta last week, I bought a non-winning Tuesday ticket and then a non-winning Friday ticket (I just checked the site). Oh, the humanity. But, the blog must go on . . .

Song Seventy-Four: Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, "Gold Lion." I got this one from EW. I know they've been darlings for a while, but I'm coming to this song a tabula rasa. There's more than a bit of Sinead O'Connor in the lead singer's voice in the yippy parts. This is a fine song, but nothing spectacular. It seems like a pastiche of a lot of 80s/90s rock, but clearly, it takes itself very seriously. Eh. As with the Strokes, I don't seem to get it.

Song Seventy-Five: Jem, "They." A welsh songstress who has nothing to do with the 1980s Jem action heroine, who was "truly outrageous" and also a songstress. Song has nice layering effects and processing. I like it--electronica regret theme with a tinge of oppression. Some of the backing tracks have a very-70s movie background feel to them. There's a nice sense of overwhelming sound when she sings of "them" that adds to the ambient suffocation.

Song Seventy-Six: Architecture in Helsinki, "The Owls Go." Okay, this song is awesome!! You'd need another blog just to catalog every instrument and human noise in here. It took about three listens just to pay attention to what the diverse vocalists were saying--which is kinda twins in the hallway Shining creepy/cute at least to my ears. The "four, three, two, one" speaker alternation is so cool (and happens twice), and when they finally got to the "owls go, hoo, hoo," I was so oddly excited to finally hear the song title. Everyone needs to own this epic. You go, Architecture in Helsinki!

Song Seventy-Seven: Apollo Sunshine, "Today is the Day." Apparently, Apollo Sunshine is the next big thing. This is a fun song. Very upbeat, music-man feel. One of those bounce in your chairs or do a hippie-dance songs. Short, driving. I can definitely see it in a Gap ad, that's for sure. Worth 99.

288 to go.

Songs Sixty-Nine to Seventy-Three

Still in catch-up mode. Went straight from tooth pulling to a conference to pulling something in my back to encouraging some folks to pursue other opportunities to trying to determine if a package of Backyardigans fruit snacks qualified as food-to-take-with-medicine-as-directed. Ah, the glamorous life of the working mom. But, it's a lovely day, I got a cute floral cardigan on sale at Old Navy, and the laundry's a-spinning, so it's time to play rush review on the blog to burn off my remaining unblabbed about songs before I go find more tunes and delve into my Daniel Boulud for dinner ideas.

Song Sixty-Nine: Ben Folds, "In Between Days." Yep, it's the Cure song. Ah, the Cure--so perfect. A neat take on the song that captures its essence but runs in a new direction, a very piano-y direction (natch). Mr. Folds's voice works well with the song, and the arrangement adds a tumbly, rushed feeling that is different from the paranoid, rushed of the original. Worth 99 cents for sure.

Song Seventy: The Derailers, "Then She Kissed Me." I knew nothing about the Derailers other than that Rory once went to a Derailers concert with Jess on the Gilmore Girls, enough to prejudice me against them. Plus, honestly, I always confuse them with the Reivers, whom I once saw and liked. This is a bit too retro-close, so it doesn't seem worth the bother. Very much Everly Brothers in two-toned puppies kind-of feel. There's a Dwight Yoakum feel here, and while I like Mr. Yoakum for many reasons, I didn't like this song much.

Song Seventy-One: Rosie Thomas, "Crazy." I can't remember why I downloaded this song. For a while I was thinking it was a cover of an N*Sync song (the one with the video where they're all in a padded room). My kids like it and say it sounds like it's from Shrek 2. Maybe it is; I only remember that opening Counting Crows song that we always dance to. Anyway, I like this song, also; her voice has a nice warm, calming timbre that plays against the "sinking into isolation and insanity" theme of the song--as does the instrumentation. Short and sweet.

Song Seventy-Two: Tricky, "Dear God." Okay, this is definitely a cover of the XTC tune. It is ur-Tricky--hushed, threatening, ominous. When I played it, my daughter told me to turn it off because it was scary. There's a nice but expected counterpoint of Tricky's processed voice with a little girl-y voice (definitely someone Euro). Playing up the dark side of the song kind of diminishes the power of the original, which puts such a nice sheen on it that you don't hear the darkness at first.

Song Seventy-Three: Jean Yves-Thibaudet, Music from Pride and Prejudice. Well, I downloaded the whole album, so I thought I'd blog it. I absolutely love this soundtrack and the movie, too; I'm such an Anglophile Austen romance-sucker--windswept, surging, sparse, thoughtful, enveloping. This is perfect "listening to my iPod reading and studying" music, and I recommend it to all with a heart and soul. There's a great moment in the director's commentary when Joe Wright talks about how we tend to undervalue the wish-fulfillment aspect of movies. Embrace that wish, dear reader, the heath awaits!

292 to go.