Monday, August 25, 2008

One More For Old Lang

For those three to six people who occasionally check in here I wish to extend my heartfelt apologies for failing to update on a regular basis. I have been unsure as to what this space was going to become so in lieu of flailing about in all different directions I thought I'd wait until I was certain of what I hoped to accomplish. Obviously that meant that I would never write again. Ahem. So today, in order to kick start the daily commitment, I'm going to revert to the iPod chronicles. Tomorrow something else will happen.

1. 'The Gutter Shit (Featuring Jayo Felony, Gangsta, & Squeak Ru) by Ice Cube from 'War & Peace, Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc)

With all of his family friendly cinematic offerings it is easy to forget just how sharp a social critic Ice Cube can be. He views all power and prestige through a jaded lens, knowing just what it takes in order to achieve it. I know that gangsta rap is seen by many as some sort of blight upon our national artistic crop but to my mind it proves the fertility of the American soil.

2. 'Valentine' by The Replacements from 'Pleased To Meet Me'

When the opening chords of this song rang out my face went in three thousand different directions at once and finally landed on a wry smile. There is something muscular and open in their crunch and you expect to be carried off into some anthemic sunset. But then the first line hits and you feel as if you are just waking up the day after your first love broke your heart. Sleep allowed you to forget just how much pain you were in. Dawn is a chore.

So you wish upon a star
That turns into a plane
Well I guess that's right on par
Who is left to blame?

3. 'Square Dance' by Eminem from 'The Eminem Show'

How does he do it? If you are one of those people who view Eminem as some sort of cheap shot vulgarian you are completely missing the point. And some of the best music ever. I feel sorry for you.

4. 'Morning New Disease' by Jets To Brazil from 'Orange Rhyming Dictionary'

If cultural anthropology had a thesis soundtrack it would be scored by these guys. Sometimes they are a bit too cerebral and the music becomes antiseptic. But this song keeps its heart beating hard up in the forefront of the mix.

5. 'Bobby James' by N*E*R*D from 'In Search Of...'

When NERD (Noone Ever Really Dies) hit the scene, Pharrell Williams was an underground/overground sensation. He'd produced hits for Britney and it didn't hurt his street cred. That's how respected his production skills were. He recorded 'In Search Of...' and decided at the last minute that it too closely resembled hits he'd produced for other people. So he kept the vocal tracks, called in a hot funk group called Spymob to replace the electronic beats with live instruments, and thus a legend was almost born. Yeah, almost. I don't know why but the whole is just a little bit less than the sum of its parts.

6. 'Bravo Pour Le Clown!' by Edith Piaf from 'The Very Best Of Edith Piaf'

It's French.

7. 'Brick Is Red' by The Pixies from 'Surfer Rosa & Come On Pilgrim'

Just another teeny tiny little rock anthem ditty from the rock world equivalent of one of Joseph Cornell's boxes. There is not a single Pixies song that doesn't feel like you were left free to roam the attic of some eccentric relative and discovered indescribably odd knick knacks in dusty old trunks.

8. 'With A Wish' by The Miracle Legion from 'Drenched'

These guys were from Connecticut so they always seemed like almost friends. Musician acquaintances knew people who knew people in the band and we all pulled for them to make it big. It never happened. But if you want a SUPREME joy of an hour, pick up 'Drenched' and get lost in it. It is like the last afternoon of your post adolescence, just before you have the cocktail that will push you from buzz to maudlin, just before you realize that you have to change everything.

9. 'A Man In Need' by Richard Thompson from 'Watching The Dark (1)'

Who's gonna cure the heart of a man in need?

If you ever need a pick me up, just take a listen to the album that this song is from, Richard & Linda Thompson's 'Shoot Out The Lights'. He writes the music and lyrics, she sings. They are breaking up. He is writing songs about the demise of their relationship. They are IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BREAK UP. She is singing his words. Seriously. You will feel like your life is not all that bad after hanging out with the Thompson's for an hour.

10. 'Speak, See, Remember' by Pavement from 'Terror Twilight'

I have no idea what this song is about but I love it anyway. You know that guy in every high school who is a math whiz, President of Debate Club, killer guitar player, excels at some mainstream sport like football or baseball but alienates all of his teammates because he is not a jock, and dates some hot girl from some town just far enough away to make you realize how sheltered and insular your life is? That guy started Pavement.

11. 'Guilford Fall Demo' by Fugazi from 'Instrument Soundtrack'

Hot punk.

12. 'Do You Want To Break Up?' by Eurythmics from 'Savage'

Annie Lennox is not afraid to be unlikeable and that makes her extraordinary. This song is a heinous mix of come-on/brush-off and aloof derision. How this song winds up being a sing-along is beyond me. And Dave Stewart's squiggly line guitar figures are creepily fun. They make my language go all haywire.

13. 'Sad Songs And Waltzes' by Cake from 'Fashion Nugget'

You know how Malcolm Gladwell talks about the tipping point, that moment when something swings from a minor moment into something larger and inexorable? Hearing this song this morning was the tipping point for me and I am fed up with Cake. The guy seems to court off-tempo snags in his vocal delivery and what promises originality comes off as stubbornly idiosyncratic and hopelessly mired in quirk.

14. 'Here I Am' by Lyle Lovett from 'Lyle Lovett And His Large Band'

See 'Sad Songs And Waltzes' by Cake RIGHT ABOVE.

What will tomorrow bring? Who knows...


siobhan said...

don't stop writing! i am one of the six who looks forward to reading what you have to say every day. love you!

Brendan O'Malley said...

hee hee!

i'm back!

i love you too!