Saturday, January 06, 2007

Songs 315 to 324

As I sit here this morning drinking heated orange juice--my favorite cold cure--while starting to feel the odd effects of the meds I'm on for an equally odd laryngitis I developed, I thought I'd whittle some more on the blog. Everyone's still sleeping, so let's see how much I can accomplish before being forced to watch "Horseland."

Song 315: Danielson, "Did I Step On Your Trumpet." Song has a novelty-ish feel, very intentionally quirky. Apparently this band started as an art school thesis (big, flashing warning lights should be inserted here).

Song 316: Green Day & U2, "The Saints Are Coming." I first saw U2 when they opened for the J. Geils Band (yes, dear readers, I'm old) and stopped listening to them years ago around the time Bono started wearing those post-Onos. I do like Green Day quite a bit, though. Still, this collaboration seems to bring out the worst in GD and underscores why I stopped listening to U2.

Song 317: Shelby Lynne, "Where Am I Now." Shelby Lynne, at her best, cannot be beat for a lived-in, too-knowing, sad-weary-sexy delivery; and, this is a great example. Beautifully stripped down initially, it builds nicely with a lonely echoing track.

Song 318: Iron & Wine, "Each Coming Night." Turns out I already reviewed an Iron & Wine song but forgot. Still, I did buy this. Very spare, with a retro 70s folk vibe. This would make a nice hip-parent lullaby track.

Song 319: Nick Drake, "Pink Moon." I've liked this song since it was in a VW ad years back. Another possibility for hip-parents. Mellow wanderings.

Song 320: Nara Leao, "Meditacao." Classic Brazilian lounge pop. Fantastic dinner/brunch music or just brain drifting music. I could listen to music like this all day sometimes; it just wraps you like a perfect blanket, deflecting the world.

Song 321: Blackfield, "Hello." Modern prog rock from the dales of England and Israel (?!) with a nice touch of Oasis to keep it from being to fairy/hobbit/twee. I like it. Keep those drum fills coming. Has an odd bit of silence at the end. Maybe it's a moment of reflection?

Song 322: Porcupine Tree, "Lazarus." This is the initial band of one of the guys in Blackfield--again prog rock. Very pretty prog rock, but because of the song's length (see genre), it gets a bit repetitive. Still, it is nice to see something that takes all those emo sentiments, plunks them in a new setting, and surrounds them with arena-ready drum fills.

Song 323: Switchfoot, "Faust, Midas, and Myself." It's "The Devil Went Down to San Diego"! I like this song; it opens up well and tells a narrative that's a sliver away from being a Tenacious D song but never crosses that line because of an honest sense of urgency. Cool.

Song 324: Amos Lee, "Colors." Folk music for the Norah Jones/"Grey's Anatomy" demographic (look, dear readers, I'm right there wit ya). Lovely voice, pretty tune.

41 to go.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Songs 302 to 314

Right, then. I'm back from some laundry folding and watching 49Up to try to finish up my purchased songs while my veggies roast for soup. It's a very grey day. Perfect for soup, baguettes, and house cleaning.

Song 302: Eberg, "Inside Your Head." Electronica with an initial beat that sounds Bjork-y. I know I know this song from a tv show or movie commercial. Female vocals mixed high, male mixed low. Sinks into the background fairly quickly.

Song 303: Esthero & Cee Lo Green, "Gone." This is the Cee Lo from Gnarls Barkley. It's a nice MOR ballad. She has a good lyrical flow and the chorus is hit nicely. The rap add-on is okay but seems layered too much on the surface.

Song 304: Field Music, "It's Not the Only Way to Feel Happy." The song takes a bit of time to get started. The instrumentation is interesting, but everything is mixed a bit close together so that it's too muddy. In quilting, you need to avoid making all your fabrics midtones, otherwise the pattern disappears; likely, the same is true in music.

Song 305: Guster, "Backyard." Pretty song. The lead singer's voice has a nice lilt that doesn't veer to the precious plaintive that so common with kids these days. Complex instrumentation, too.

Song 306: Kendall Payne, "Scratch." This song was playing on my iPod as I sat in my in-law's kitchen putting together my daughter's birthday Barbie's Real House, and it almost made me cry. Apparently, she's a Christian artist without a record deal and with a surprising number of photos of her puppy on her website, but I won't hold that against her.

Song 307: Masha Qrella, "Destination Vertical." More electronica with a scratchy sound and undermixed girl vocals. Again, good background music.

Song 308: MoZella, "You Wanted It." Sounds a bit like Corrinne Bailey Rae's musical cousin; there's a lot of this stuff out now. It's not bad, just pleasant and flows all together into one big Gap/Starbucks/West Elm soundtrack.

Song 309: Richard Ashcroft, "Music is Power." This song is so British. Not a judgment, just an observation.

Song 310: Sam Roberts Band, "Bridge to Nowhere." Again, I know I've heard this in a show somewhere. Fits in the new folky vein. Nice open voice. Nice description of my life. Canadian with album art by a guy who also can do your panel van.

Song 311: Sylvie Lewis, "By Heart." Very spare song, perfect for Grey's Anatomy. She has a fine but not remarkable voice; it has a certain depth to it, which is good.

Song 312: Tigarah, "Japanese Queen." A Gwen-a-like . . . the Harajuku girls take their revenge and it sounds pretty darn interesting. Japanese world music. I'd listen to more of this.

Song 313: TV On The Radio, "Wolf Like Me." Lots of ominous sounds; low-fi reverb with a good driving beat. This is a very hype-y band, but this sound justifies interest. I'd prefer the song without the break in the middle though; that seems a bit too.

Song 314: Peaches, "Do Ya." Grrl rockin empowerment that seems a bit tired what with the tamborines and all. And, who called for the synth break?

51 to go.

Songs 294 to 301

Admittedly, this has taken me more than a year, but by the end of this post, I will have downloaded and reviewed over 300 songs by almost as many artists--most of which I never heard of before coughing up 99 for their music. (And, most of which, I will never hear of again!) I'll keep going until I hit the magic 365 mark--so here are some more entries, fueled by a generous dose of Starbucks' holiday blend and a peanut butter cinnamon raisin bagel, the breakfast of iPod champions.

Song 294: Laura Veirs, "Rapture." Lyrical singer/songwriter stuff. The delivery is nice and sparse--not little girl lost as so much of this seems to be. There's a choir element to her singing that's nice. The lyrics are interesting as well.

Song 295: Spoon, "The Way We Get By." One thing I've learned this year is that the OC may be an awful show, but it features fabu music. This is from the OC Mix 1 and is a solid rock of today song. Nice use of piano and cymbal work. Kind of like Ben Folds for the young people (rather than Ben Folds for the really, really young people, which follows below). Good song.

Song 296: Catherine Feeny, "Mr. Blue." This is one of those girl singer/songwriter songs that sounds like many, many others. It's not bad; it's just the same. Who signs these people? I can't believe the market supports all of them. She is British, maybe that makes a difference.

Song 297: Si*Se, "The Truth." Starbucks-friendly world music with an electronicity feel. If Shakira had a moody cousin, she would be singing for Si*Se (which is too difficult to type to make this music worth listening to. Phoney diacritics are so last year!)

Song 298: The American Analog Set, "Cool Kids Keep." This song is a love child of "Kids in America," "I Don't Like Mondays," and "Jeremy" with a lovely low-fi hum. Spooky and ominous. I like it!

Song 299: Ben Folds & William Shatner, "Rockin the Suburbs (Over the Hedge Version)." Like most parents of children a certain age, I now spend at least one weekend a month at the movies watching yet another CGI-animation fest--most of which are full-on awful but which the kids, as kids, like anyway. Over the Hedge was actually pretty good, and during it, I kept thinking--I know who's singing here, who is it? It's the five-less Ben Folds. Fun music, and Shatner is always gold, people. (Though seriously, Ben, wash the hair every once in a while. Even McConaughey has trouble rockin that look.)

Song 300: Athlete, "Tourist." Very emo.

Song 301: Band of Horses, "Great Salt Lake." Vocals have been recorded in another state than the music, apparently, which gives this a nice distancing sound. There seems to be a resurgence of a kind of anthemic, postemo power ballad. This is one of those. See, it all comes back.

64 to go.

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.