Monday, May 31, 2010

Song of The Day #035

"Die Donnergotter" by Rhys Chatham

Everything about this song is epic. Its name is epic--say it: DIE DONNER- GOTTERRRR. What its name means is epic--The Thundergods. Its length is epic--21 minutes and 48 seconds according to iTunes. Its intro is epic--wailing guitar and an epic drum solo encompass the first three minutes. And, well, the whole rest of the song is epic. When the intro ends just after that three minute mark, there's this classic rock-like breakdown of big guitar strums and then... The song kicks into this driving, pulsing groove. It sounds like Can meets Sonic Youth meets Steve Reich meets Thin Lizzy meets Beethoven meets who knows who else. It's awesome. And epic. (By the way, the YouTube clip is from just from after the intro and does not go until the end.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Song of The Day #034

"Dark Globe" by Syd Barrett

"Dark Globe" is a weird song, but it's unassuming in its weirdness. It seems like just a simple acoustic guitar and voice tune until the meter becomes sporadic, the lyrics take a turn for the bizarre, a dissonant chord or two show up, and Barrett starts yelling. The effect is a twisted and emotional folk song that shows why Pink Floyd got worse after Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Song of The Day #033

"Autochaos" by Nashi Dela

I don't know much about this group other than what I've gleaned from their MySpace (they're based in Switzerland, sing in Russian, have released one album), but I must say: I like them. The music is seemingly improvised and consists of rich, chaotic smatterings of bass clarinet, trumpet, bass, various electronics, and only they know what else. "Autochaos" is a relatively heavy track that pulses along then devolves then pulses again. Some Russian sprechgesang fits over the top to lighten the otherwise very dense mix, and the result is one of Nashi Dela's more "fun" songs.

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Favorite Sly & The Family Stone Albums and Songs

The latest inductee into the makeshift Il Buono Rock n' Roll hall of fame, Sly & The Family Stone only existed as a coherent band for about a decade, but their prolific and consistent canon is one of the finest in the history of modern music. Starting as a fun-loving, optimistic bunch of black and white San Francisco hippies who played seriously funky stuff, the Family Stone evolved into one of the darkest, most relevant, and still most funky bands--soul or otherwise--ever. Obviously they're best remembered for the sinister, epochal There's A Riot Goin' On (which is maybe my favorite album of all time), but Sly & The Family Stone put out several great albums and an innumerable collection of great singles. Sly Stone, as messed up as he may be nowadays (see: this year's Coachella), belongs in a very select group of songwriters and musicians right alongside the John Lennons, David Bowies, and Bob Dylans of the world. Sly & The Family Stone are truly one of the most important, innovative, and amazing bands of all time. Here's to them.

My list of my six favorite Stone albums and thirty favorite Stone tunes is below.

1. There's A Riot Goin' On
2. Stand!
3. Fresh
4. Small Talk
5. Life
6. A Whole New Thing

1. If You Want Me To Stay
2. Africa Talks To You (The Asphalt Jungle)
3. Thank You For Talkin' To Me Africa
4. Everyday People
5. Hot Fun In The Summertime
6. Family Affair
7. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
8. Luv 'n' Haight
9. Runnin' Away
10. I Want To Take You Higher

11. Just Like A Baby
12. Stand
13. Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey
14. Dance To The Music
15. Let Me Have It all
16. (You Caught Me) Smilin'
17. Life
18. Loose Booty
19. You Can Make It If You Try
20. Spaced Cowboy

21. Sex Machine
22. Babies Makin' Babies
23. Everybody Is A Star
24. In Time
25. Sing A Simple Song
26. M'lady
27. Underdog
28. Skin I'm In
29. Fun
30. Mother Beautiful

That's what I think. Heck of a band, weren't they?

Song of The Day #032

"Love Action (I Believe In Love)" by The Human League

The Human League is certainly one of synth-pop's finest groups, and this is one of their finest songs. Hailing from their opus, Dare, this song is full of their trademark stuttering synths, deadpan vocals, clever lyrics and great hooks, and, unlike many of its contemporaries, isn't cheesy or dated.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Song of The Day #031

"Friday Night" by The Darkness

Is there any finer song that professes young love while recounting various after-school activities? No. Not that I've heard at least. The Darkness' "Friday Night" was a favorite of mine ca. 2004, and, looking back on it, I applaud my twelve-year old self's discerning tastes. Obviously The Darkness are (were) ridiculous, but their brand of ridiculousness was one that was calculated to be fun, lewd and, ultimately, inspiring. Yes: inspiring. In this song, Justin Hawkins sings about his busy schedule--archery, needlework, bridge club, etc.--and how he found time, during dancing class, to fall in love with a girl who may or may not have even known he existed. Inspiring indeed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Song of The Day #029

"Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye" by Leonard Cohen

I was listening to this today, and I was like, "have I ever had a Leonard Cohen song as Song of The Day?" And then I was like, "no. I haven't." So I decided to make this, one of the best songs in his hugely impressive repertoire, today's song du jour. Here's to you Mr. Cohen--one of the finest songwriters ever.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Song of The Day #028

"Bewitched" by Beat Happening

I have a crush on this song.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My Favorite Tom Waits Albums and Songs

It's been a while since my last real list, and, well, yeah. Anyways, with these kinds of lists, I've paid tribute to four of the greatest rock n' roll artists/bands in the history of the universe (Beatles, Kraftwerk, Bowie, Sonic Youth), and with this specific one that you are reading right this instant, I am adding a fifth member to Il Buono's pantheon of rock gods. That member is Tom Waits. Waits is one of the best, most prolific, and most consistent songwriters of the past century or two. He's able to change his style without ever sacrificing his identity while putting out albums every couple years--and he's done that for a good three and a half decades now. Obviously his calling card is his voice, which is certainly one of the most distinctly amazing voices in music, but his lyrics and arrangements match the power of his gravelly moan. From beautiful piano ballads to dirty blues romps, the man has covered a lot of musical territory; wherever he goes, though, he's sure to infuse the tunes with a hefty dose of experimenting and another hefty dose of bizarre, intricate storytelling. So here's to you Mr. Waits. You've earned your seat between Florian Schneider and George Harrison.

Oh, and here are my ten favorite Waits albums and thirty favorite Waits songs:

1. Rain Dogs
2. Swordfishtrombones
3. Bone Machine
4. Orphans
5. Mule Variations
6. Alice
7. Small Change
8. Blood Money
9. Night On Earth (Soundtrack)
10. Closing Time

1. Tango Till They're Sore
2. Jockey Full of Bourbon
3. Swordfishtrombone
4. Lie To Me
5. Gun Street Girl
6. 16 Shells From A Thirty-Ought-Six
7. Bottom Of The World
8. Goin' Out West
9. Lucinda
10. Big Black Mariah

11. Get Behind The Mule
12. Cemetery Polka
13. The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)
14. Rains On Me
15. A Little Rain
16. Back In The Good Old World (Gypsy)
17. Frank's Wild Years
18. Big In Japan
19. Rain Dogs
20. God's Away On Business

21. Hoist That Rag
22. Reeperbahn
23. 2:19
24. Tom Traubert's Blues
25. Chocolate Jesus
26. Underground
27. Just The Right Bullets
28. The Earth Died Screaming
29. I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You
30. Table Top Joe

That's what I think. So there.

Song of The Day #027

"Dancer" by Gino Soccio

This song--further proof that Italians are the masters of not only pasta and Westerns, but also disco--is one of my favorite disco tracks ever. It's just a thoroughly archetypal late-70s cut that has been ripped off over and over again in house, funk, techno and nu-disco. I don't feel like saying any more...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Song of The Day #026

"Include Me Out" by Young Marble Giants

I've gone through many phases with this band. When I first heard them, I was relatively inspired by their minimalist pop. Then I slowly started to find them quite boring. Then I went a good year or so without listening to them at all. And now I'm back where I started on account of their music truly being amazing. This song in particular is one of the defining pieces of post-punk, for me at least. The beat is kept by a Geiger counter, and there's a simple, repetitive, punk-y guitar riff on top. A bassline moves the tune forwards, and the vocals, delicate but purposeful, are catchy and complimentary.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Song of The Day #025

"The Last Roundup" by The Feelies

I was trying to write some songs 'cause, you know, I like music or whatever, and maybe I could write some songs 'cause I'm creative and stuff and wear cool glasses. Needless to say my results were ignorable at best--except for one song. I started writing this one, and it was actually starting to sound pretty good. Cool guitar lick, fast, good idea for a vocal rhythm/melody (no lyrics yet)--a nice blend of good ol' fashioned rock n' roll and new fashioned minimalism. Anyways, after playing around on it for about fifteen minutes, I realized that, well, it was "The Last Roundup". Bummer.

But I picked a great song to rip off. "The Last Roundup", off of The Feelies' magnificent and slightly overlooked sophomore effort, The Good Earth, does exactly what I was trying to do: mix propulsive rock n' roll with a subversive, minimalist edge found elsewhere in the music of Riley, Reich, et. al. (And it does it much cleaner, more professional, and better than I could ever do.)

Like any other Feelies track, it's characterized by fast, detailed, clean guitars and motorik percussion. (The absence of original drummer Anton Fier is felt, but replacement Stan Demeski does a good enough job combining Liebezeit with Ramone--Tommy, that is.) Lou Reed/Iggy Pop-esque vocals fill in the rest of the mix, and, in accordance with the title of the song, it has a bit of a country-western vibe.

However, "The Last Roundup" is more than just a collage of some of the best rock and experimental music of the '60s and '70s; The Feelies learned from these gods of rock (VU, Can, Stooges, Ramones, etc.) and used their knowledge to take rock n' roll into the '80s and, well, beyond.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Song of The Day #024

"Lacrime Di Re" by Popol Vuh

Another (see yesterday) drone-y, beautiful cut from the '70s, "Lacrime Di Re" was the theme song of sorts for Herzog's awesome Aguirre. It sounds medieval in its scope and tone, but it's clearly a song of the modern era, as it uses new (in the '70s) electronic technology. Basically, I think it's just a really cool song from a really cool movie.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Song of The Day #023

"He Loved Him Madly" by Miles Davis

Miles Davis released over five hundred albums (I made that number up, but it's probably close), which means it's hard to narrow down his canon (I've used that word two days in a row, I know--it's just a great word) to a few essential albums/pieces. But if one were to embark on such a task--to scale down Mr. Davis's vast discography into just a nugget of recordings--one would have to go immediately to "He Loved Him Madly." This post-Bitches cut is wilder and more psychedelic than anything on that album and, in my opinion, better, too. The track finds Miles on the organ throughout, with some delayed trumpet overdubs. It drones and sways and doesn't really go anywhere--but you don't want it to. It's very weird, very long, and very mindblowing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Song of The Day #022

"Death To Everyone" by Bonnie "Prince" Billy

I've been listening to and rather enjoying The Wonder Show of The World since its March release, but when looking at Will Oldham's impressive Bonnie canon, I always have to go straight to I See A Darkness. There's something that album has--a devilishness of some sort--that nothing else he has made as Bonnie or Palace or any other pseudonym can top. And "Death To Everyone" is one of the highlights of that classic album. It's haunting, warm, and funny all at the same time--and it introduced at least me, and probably many others, to a new slang word: hosing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Song of The Day #021

"Bottom of the World" by Tom Waits

A very beautiful and emotional song that makes you very sad--but you have no idea what the hell he's singing about. Now there's an accomplishment.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Song of The Day #020

"You Suffer" by Napalm Death

The lyrics to this song are listed as "You suffer/But why?" I don't know about you, but I don't hear a single English word in this. I do, however, hear a full second's worth of pure, crazy grindcore energy.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Song of The Day #019

Well, tonight is the night of the prom. To commemorate this event, I've been listening to "Time After Time", which is, of course, the song played during this past decade's most iconic prom scene. That scene is, of course, the one from Napoleon Dynamite. But hilarious movie connection aside, "Time After Time" is actually, I think, a pretty fantastic and beautiful song. It's got that '80s cheese baked in for sure, but it's still a very warm, very excellent pop song. I don't even consider it a guilty pleasure; it's just a pleasure. "I like your sleeves."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Song of The Day #018

"I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Stooges

(The following is a para-paraphrasing of real events.)

Eager Music Fan: Joe, what's your favorite song?
Joe: Ever?
EMF: Ever.
Joe: Well...
(Pauses for eight seconds as he thinks, his long pondering an attempt to subtly showcase his vast musical knowledge.)
Joe: Probably "I Wanna Be Your Dog" by The Stooges.
EMF: Really? I, uh, I know that one. By The Stooges.
Joe: Yeah, by The Stooges.
EMF: How come?
Joe: Why is it my favorite?
EMF: Yeah.
Joe: Because...for the same reason Simon Cowell is everyone's favorite Idol judge.
EMF: Oh. Mine's...I don't know.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Song of The Day #017

"Whiskey On The Grave" by Spiral Joy Band

This Song of The Day kind of stands for the entire, amazing, thoughtful compilation it comes from--Honest Strings: A Tribute To The Life and Work of Jack Rose--but I did choose this particular selection for a reason. At 22 minutes, this song is a beast to get through, but it's a thoroughly rewarding listen. It's a bit drone-y, a bit free jazz-y, a bit folk-y--well it's mostly drone. There are some really beautiful textures mixed with some harsher ones, and a light ambient crowd noise underneath the drone adds to the piece's personality. It moves well for a 22-minuter and is a nice--albeit abstract--tribute to the late great Jack Rose.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Song of The Day #016

"Definitive Gaze" by Magazine

I've loved "Shot By Both Sides" for a while, but I never really cared to give Magazine a chance outside their one big-ish single. Well, it turns out they're pretty darn good. "Definitive Gaze", the lead track off their masterpiece LP Real Life, mixes Low-indebted electronic textures and rhythms with some chunky, post-Buzzcock post-punk. The influence of that album (Low), which came out a year before this did, on this track is definitely apparent, but the song has its own identity for sure. And it's a good identity.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Song of The Day #015

"Being It" by Arthur Russell

Arthur Russell is the Chuck Norris of modern music. (Are Chuck Norris jokes still funny?) (This piece of excellence comes from 1986's World Of Echo, by the way.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Song of The Day #014

"I Had A Good Father and Mother" by Washington Phillips

Perfect for the day after Mother's Day is this ode to having good parents (even if the parents in this song are dead). One of Phillips's few recordings, "I Had A Good Father and Good Mother" is a nice, old timey gospel song that doesn't preach or overwhelm with Christianity; it only overwhelms with goodness. It's also pretty darn weird, considering the vocals are Phillips's scratchy whine and the instrumentation consists solely of Phillips's primitive zither-like creation (a Dolceola). I especially like when he "ooh"s over the bridges. He sounds happy and full of despair at the same time throughout.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Song of The Day #013

"Tally Ho!" by The Clean

More haikus!

Play that Farfisa
Over punk from Down Under
Great bunch of Kiwis

Don't know much about that year
But love "Tally Ho!"!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Song of The Day #012

"Cuando Maravilla Fui" by El Guincho

How quickly we forget! El Guincho's Alegranza! was easily one of the coolest things to come out of 2008, and I haven't seen anything about him or listened to his music since. I wonder what he's doing. When this album came out, though, I was all over it. Tropical, dance-y, Animal Collective-y--it had it all. And while those ingredients add up to nothing groundbreaking, El Guincho's songs were really well constructed and a lot of fun. This song ("Cuando Maravilla Fui") in particular is a big time global banger. It's got some Middle Eastern samples, some Spanish ones, and a huge beat. It's a great song that I hadn't heard for quite some time before this morning. Here's to hoping El Guincho comes out with something soon.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Poll Results: Your Favorite Icelandic Artist

The past poll asked for your favorite Icelandic musical artist. To lift Iceland's post-volcano spirits, I thought it important to celebrate their wonderfully weird music scene. For such a small and seemingly boring country, Iceland has put out a considerable amount of great music in the last two decades or so. Often, the music echoes the iciness implied by the country's name--see Bjork's Homogenic or Sigur Ros' Agaetis Byrjun for the best examples. In addition to those artists, Iceland has produced people as varied as bluesman Mugison and modern composer Johann Johannson. The most intriguing recent stuff out of Iceland has been courtesy of Bedroom Community, a relatively new Icelandic label that has released things by Icelanders Daniel Bjarnason and Valgeir Sigurosson, Aussie-expat-in-Iceland Ben Frost, and American-signed-to-an-Icelandic-label Sam Amidon. Go Iceland!

Anyhow, I asked your favorite artist of this bunch (not including Sam Amidon). You responded and, semi-unsurprisingly, chose Sigur Ros as your favorite. Sigur Ros is a great band, so no complaints there. What was slightly surprising was Johann Johannson coming in second and Bjork in third; I was expecting to see Bjork at 1 or 2. Anyhow, the rest of the bunch failed to garner any votes. Sorry Daniel Bjarnason! Whatever.

Song of The Day #011

"Bump" by Spank Rock

"Bump" is an immensely stupid and dirty piece of club-rap that is by no means innovative or musically intriguing. That said, this was just about my favorite song in the world when it was released, and I'm very much loving listening to it right now. It's just a fun, mindless repetitive groove with some silly, vulgar, catchy rapping on top that lasts about two minutes too long--a formula that appealed strongly to the fourteen-year old Joe who listened mostly to hip-hop, and, somewhat surprisingly, appeals to the seventeen-year old, much snobbier Joe as well.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Song of The Day #010

"Don't Like Goodbyes" by Frank Sinatra

Hey! We're in double digits now for the Song of The Day! Woo-hoo! I've been doing this for a whole week and a half! (Let's face it: we all thought this would stop after two days.) To celebrate this monumental landmark in time and space, we'll all listen to Frank Sinatra's wonderful "Don't Like Goodbyes" from 1957, which--I just learned--was written by Truman Capote. It's not necessarily Francis Albert's greatest song, but it's a nice, slow, almost eerie tune from the crooner's heyday about, well, not liking goodbyes. Like any good Capitol release in the late '50s, it's got rich, full strings, but what I like about this song is that that's basically it. It's just nice strings and a nice voice. A precursor to Arthur Russell's World Of Echo, perhaps? Probably not. But a good song.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Song of The Day #009

"No Pussy Blues" by Grinderman

It's called "No Pussy Blues", but Nick Cave and Co. really aren't "blue" about not gettin' any; they're pissed. Big time. And never has screaming about lack of pussy ever sounded so poetic. The song starts with a romantic courtship--"I read her Elliot, read her Yeats/I tried my best to stay up late/I fixed the hinges on her gate"--that, after repeated rejection, becomes an aggressive, angry plea for lovin'--"I thought I'd have another go/I called her my little ho/I felt like Marcel Marceau must feel when/She said she just never wanted to". You know how there's a few--or maybe fifty--songs that just excite you every time you hear them, no matter how long the duration is between listens? Of course you do. Everyone has those songs. "No Pussy Blues" is one of mine, and when I heard it for the first time in a couple months yesterday, I was thrilled.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Song of The Day #008

"New New" by DNA

This is just some old fashioned rock n' roll fun--just with a lot of dissonance and groaning and stuff. Well, so maybe it's not old fashioned fun. But the industrial clatter, uneven tribal percussion, unintelligible grunts, and uncomfortable frequencies that make up this track truly are fun, albeit challenging. The skronk-y experimentalism found here is all over the industrial and post-hardcore and noise rock of the '80s and '90s, and the combination of noise, punk, and krautrock figures prominently in the music of Health and other similarly minded modern groups. (This track was recorded circa 1981.) So as obscure and weird and potentially unlistenable as this song and the rest of DNA's music might seem at first, stick with them; they're influential, good, and--like I said at the beginning--a lot of fun. "New New" is a prime artifact from the beloved No Wave movement from one of the era's finest artists.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Song of The Day #007

"Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega & D.N.A.

"Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do / Do do do do, do dodo do." And it's about Monk's!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Song of The Day #006

"Back In The Good Old World (Gypsy)" by Tom Waits

The title of this song, which comes from the Night On Earth soundtrack, explains the tune pretty well. "When I was a boy, the moon was a pearl, the sun a yellow gold/But when I was a man, the wind blew cold, the hills were upside down," wails Waits, singing from beyond the grave. Life was better back in the good old world. This is a sentimental ballad about the way things were, but it takes on a demonic feel like most Waits recordings post-Swordfishtrombones. It works very nicely with the bleak confusing worlds of Night On Earth, but it also works as just a song--a great, weird, sad, funny Tom Waits song.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Song of The Day #005

"Another Heartbreak / Don't Don't Redux" by Peter Gordon & The Love of Life Orchestra

This new-old gem is the latest release from arguably-my-favorite label DFA Records. (I say new-old because it's a remixing of two of the group's songs from around 1980.) If you're at all acquainted with DFA (LCD Soundsystem, Juan Maclean, Hercules & Love Affair, you know the rest) then you'll notice that the nouvelle disco that the label pumps out with regularity is highly indebted to The Love of Life Orchestra. These songs (it's technically two jams put together) in particular blend pumping disco with avant-jazz saxophone bursts courtesy of bandleader Peter Gordon with scratchy, No Wave-y guitars. (The second part, "Don't Don't" is some funky, Glass-y, Russell-y disco.) A.k.a. it's the blueprint for DFA. Some shiny synths and some modal, Middle Eastern-y junk are thrown into the groove just for fun. The songs together are kinda long (12 and a half minutes), but it's not at all tedious since it's truly two separate songs and each one goes in so many different directions. This is a disco masterpiece, and I'm very happy it was reissued so that you and I can experience it.