Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Song of The Day #063

"Runnin' With The Devil" by Van Halen

Cool, adventurous guy I am, I just finished re-re-re-watching the complete Freaks and Geeks--this time I finished the whole thing in just over 24 hours! The music in the series is very important and, mostly, very fitting and good. "Runnin' With The Devil" is the first song the viewers hear in the show's pilot, as the "freaks" are hanging out under the bleachers. For that reason, I love this song, but I also love it because it reminds me of my metal lovin' childhood and because the edit with just David Lee Roth's voice is hysterical and also because it's just a damn great song.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Song of The Day #062

"Green Onions" by Booker T. & The MG's

"Green Onions" is just the aural definition of cool. It's so iconic, so smooth. And look at that cover.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Song of The Day #061

"Everybody Eats When They Come To My House" by Cab Calloway

Fact: any song that continuously rhymes great foods with great (and often obscure) names must be amazing. This song is not an exception.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Song of The Day #060

"I Zimbra" by Talking Heads

I may be a minority, but "I Zimbra" might just be my favorite Talking Heads song.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Song of The Day #059

"Field Day For The Sundays" by Wire

The song's under thirty seconds, but it's more interesting and more artful and more detailed than most songs six times its length. And that's the power of Pink Flag.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Song of The Day #058

"Knock 'Em Out" by Lily Allen

Lily Allen hasn't gotten much press in the past couple years for making good music, but, at one point in her life, she created a whole album's worth of really good music. "Knock 'Em Out" is a perfect example of that really good music from Alright, Still--it's got an energetic, off-kilter beat; a dancehall vibe; and clever, biting, man-hating lyrics.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Favorite Miles Davis Albums and Pieces

Hello there. Today we honor Miles Davis, one of the greatest musicians of the modern era and the jazz musician who takes up the most space on my hard drive. You go, Miles Davis!

Davis' proficiency on the trumpet is well documented; between his unbelievably vast discography as both a frontman and a sideman and all that has been written in praise of him over the past 70 years, very few people don't know who Mr. Davis is, and very few people don't love his music. Besides being extremely technically gifted, he pushed boundaries unlike any other jazz musician--or musician in general--this side of Coltrane or Coleman and still managed to sell a shit ton of records.

He was restless in his ideas; as soon as he had mastered one new form of jazz, he had to go invent or push forward another. Davis went through bebop, hard-bop, post-bop, fusion, free jazz and more throughout his career, putting his stamp on each subgenre. His music ranges from extremely beautiful to extremely bizarre, but when you listen to any of his music, you always know it's Miles Davis blowing that horn (or, in some instances, playing that organ).

So here's to you Miles Davis, the greatest trumpet player there ever was. (Below are my ten favorite Miles albums and twenty-five favorite Miles pieces. Keep in mind that as much Miles Davis music as I've heard and love, there is way more I haven't ever heard and thus won't be on these lists.)

1. Kind of Blue
It's the highest selling jazz album of all time and the gold standard for pre-1960 jazz. It's one of the finest stretches of recorded music, and it belongs nowhere other than #1.

2. Bitches Brew
His music hinted at insanity before, but Bitches Brew is where Miles completely let loose and began to fuse jazz with rock with funk with the avant-garde.

3. In A Silent Way
4. On The Corner
5. Get Up With It

6. Sketches of Spain
7. Live-Evil
8. A Tribute To Jack Johnson
9. Porgy and Bess
10. Seven Steps To Heaven

1. He Loved Him Madly
A previous song of the day and a dedication to Duke Ellington, "He Loved Him Madly" may not be Miles' most famous or most influential piece, but there's something about it and how absolutely nuts it is that makes it my favorite.

2. So What
This is just one of the most iconic pieces of modern music period. Everyone's heard "So What" and just about everyone loves it. It epitomizes jazz, and it epitomizes cool.

3. Bitches Brew
4. On The Corner/New York Girl/Thinkin' Of One Thing and Doin' Another/Vote For Miles
5. Shhh/Peaceful

6. Sivad
7. Miles Runs The Voodoo Down
8. Summertime
9. Black Satin
10. Right Off

11. Mtume
12. Flamenco Sketches
13. Funky Tonk
14. Saeta
15. Pharaoh's Dance

16. Freddie Freeloader
17. In A Silent Way/It's About That Time
18. Yesternow
19. I Loves You, Porgy
20. Calypso Frelimo

21. John McLaughlin
22. Will O' The Wisp
23. Basin Street Blues
24. Motel (Diner Au Motel)
25. Blue Xmas (To Whom It May Concern)

That's what I think. I'm certainly partial to his fusion stuff, but his entire discography deserves to be explored.

Song of The Day #057

"The Downfall of the Adelphi Rolling Grist Mill" by John Fahey

Released in 1963, this tune foreshadows the rest of Fahey's career in that it's really...weird. A frantic flute is in the forefront, and Fahey's dissonant, free-form guitar plods along in the background; it sounds unlike other Fahey pieces and unlike other music, really.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Song of The Day #056

"I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" by Television Personalities

On the surface, "I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives" is about, well, knowing where the titular mysterious legend calls home, but beyond that it's also an homage to Mr. Barrett and to the idea of heroes and idols in general. Or something like that. Regardless, it's a very tender tune (birds chirp throughout) from an overlooked band.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Song of The Day #055

"Hook On This" by Harkonen & These Arms Are Snakes

A collaboration between a band I know very little about (These Arms And Snakes) and a band I know nothing at all about (Harkonen), "Hook On This" is one of those songs that I heard completely randomly and kinda really enjoyed. It's aggressive, complex post-hardcore-y punk-metal-y stuff that's both interesting and fun.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Song of The Day #054

"Cheree" by Suicide

I recently saw Basquiat, which I enjoyed not only because it's a good movie, but also because it got me in a Suicide kick--the band, Suicide, of course. "Cheree" plays quite nicely over the end of the film; it works really well, and it's an amazing song. Creepy, emotional, and everything else that Suicide always is.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Song of The Day #053

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley

By the way he lets out that breath at the beginning, you know it's gonna be a great song. Seriously though, and this is a well known fact, this is one of the greatest covers ever and one of the most beautiful songs ever period. The greatness of this song has much to do with its lyrics; "Hallelujah" is one of the finest written pieces of music/poems I've ever had the pleasure of digesting. But no one does it better than Buckley--although John Cale does a mean version, too. His voice is so vulnerable, his guitar glimmering with despair. He delivers the message so pristinely, so emotionally (but not overly emotionally). I must admit: I almost cry every single time I listen to it. I almost cry when I think about it. I'm almost crying right now.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Song of The Day #052

"Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band" by Terry Riley

The B-side, so to speak, of Riley's masterful "A Rainbow In Curved Air", "Poppy Nogood" is one of the best and most interesting Riley compositions (that I've heard, at least). A nearly-22-minute drone for electronic keyboard and saxophone, the piece prefaces ambient music, drone, and all sorts of other minimalist forms. But unlike lots of ambient and drone, it moves plenty. It's a mindbending, beautiful piece of music.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Song of The Day #051

"A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum

It's the only song I know by them, but it's a darn good one. I've been listening to it constantly all week.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Song of The Day #050

We're celebrating the 50th (!) song of the day with Estelle and her ode to boys from the opposite side of the Atlantic (to her). It's one of the better pop songs from the last several years and a great way to celebrate the big 5-0.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Song of The Day #049

"To Composer John Cage" by Anthony Braxton

A stunning, convoluted solo alto piece by one of the greatest sax players ever dedicated to one of the greatest composers ever? Sounds good to me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Song of The Day #048

"I'm Eighteen" by Alice Cooper

As of today, I am. Happy birthday me.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Song of The Day #047

"Natural Blues" by Moby

Sometimes I forget how good Play really is. Say what you will about Moby, but that's a darn good album. Sure, it's a bit inconsistent--I could deal without some of the shiny electronic-y songs--but all those bluesy tracks are pretty great, and "Natural Blues", in my opinion, is the best of the bunch. It's soulful, it's beautiful. Good job, Moby.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Song of The Day #046

"New Noise" by Refused

I bought The Shape of Punk To Come on a whim when I was around eleven years old. At the time, I listened to a lot of modern punk, pop-punk, emo-punk, etc. (I know: unfortunate), so when I was strolling through Virgin Records and saw a CD called The Shape of Punk To Come, I was thoroughly intrigued. (It didn't hurt that the word Refused looked a lot to me like The Used, a band I liked a lot at the time. Hey, I was eleven; a lot of eleven-year olds like emo.) Regardless, the first time I listened to the CD, I was a little confused. There was, for me, a lot of waiting. A lot of nothing. What were these long segments of funny sounding noise? Why were there saxophones that were playing wrong notes? Why is it only screaming and punk-y for a few seconds? I don't get it! So I put the album away, only to rediscover it sometime last year after reading about how amazing it is. And it is amazing. It's one of the only relevant and interesting punk rock albums since the mid-80s--and "New Noise" is its defining track. Get the recent reissue if you don't already have the album!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mid-Year Report

Hey, folks! We're about half-way through 2010 now (it's flyin' by, isn't it?) which means it's time to recap the music that's come out in the year's first 50ish percent and also to look forward to the music that'll come out in the next half! Below you'll find lists of my 25 favorite albums, 50 favorite songs, 5 favorite new artists, and 10 most anticipated 2010 albums. So if you haven't heard of or heard some of this stuff, you'd better open up your internet browser and do some listenin'. Enjoy.

2010 has been quite a spectacular year for music so far. Though no significant trends, for me at least, have emerged in independent music, there have been a surprising number of excellent, groundbreaking-ish LPs. (One thing I've noticed is that I'm starting to get old-man taste in music. Most of my favorite releases are from established artists; very few of my 2010 favorites have been made by young, new groups.) Below, in alphabetical order by artist, are those favorites. (Bold indicates and album of the month.)

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti--Before Today
Beach House--Teen Dream
Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang--The Wonder Show of The World

Emeralds--Does It Look Like I'm Here?
Erykah Badu--New Amerykah, Pt. 2: Return of the Ankh
The Fall--Your Future Our Clutter
Flying Lotus--Cosmogramma
Gil Scott-Heron--I'm New Here

Gonjasufi--A Sufi and A Killer
Hot Chip--One Life Stand
Jack Rose--Luck In The Valley
Jamie Lidell--Compass
Janelle Monae--The ArchAndroid

Joanna Newsom--Have One On Me
LCD Soundsystem--This Is Happening
Owen Pallett--Heartland
Pantha Du Prince--Black Noise

Sam Amidon--I See The Sign
Sun Araw--On Patrol
The Tallest Man On Earth--The Wild Hunt
These New Puritans--Hidden
Titus Andronicus--The Monitor

Now for my 50 favorite songs of 2010 so far (again in alphabetical order by artist, and again bold indicates a song of the month):

Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti--Round and Round
Beach House--Walk In The Park
Beach House--Zebra
Big Boi--Shutterbugg
Bonnie "Prince" Billy & The Cairo Gang--That's What Our Love Is
C Joynes--Broad Church Traveling
ceo--come with me
Charlie Parr & Mike Gangloff--This World Is Not My Home

Chris Forsyth--(Now I'm A Pharmacist) Boogie
Crystal Castles--Celestica (Thurston Moore Rmx)
Cults--Go Outside
Cults--Most Wanted
Disappears--Gone Completely
Erykah Badu--Window Seat
Gil Scott-Heron--I'll Take Care of You
Gil Scott-Heron--New York Is Killing Me
Hot Chip--Slush

Hot Chip--Take It In
Jack Rose--Lick Mountain Ramble
James Blake--CMYK
Jamie Lidell--Compass
Janelle Monae--Cold War
Janelle Monae--Wondaland
Janelle Monae feat. Big Boi--Tightrope
Joanna Newsom--'81
Joanna Newsom--Good Intentions Paving Co.
Joy Orbison--The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow

Keepaway--Yellow Wings
The Knife--Colouring of Pigeons
LCD Soundsystem--Dance Yrself Clean
LCD Soundsystem--Home
LCD Soundsystem--I Can Change
Lindstrom & Christabelle--Lovesick
Michoacan--In The Dark of the Night
Nico Teen--Hungry For Love
Pantha Du Prince--Stick To My Side

Sade--Soldier of Love
Sam Amidon--How Come That Blood
Sam Amidon--Pretty Fair Damsel
Sam Amidon--You Better Mind
Shabazz Palaces--32 leaves dipped in blackness making clouds forming altered carbon
Soom T--Puff That Weed
These New Puritans--We Want War
Titus Andronicus--A More Perfect Union
Titus Andronicus--Four Score and Seven
World Unite/Lucifer Youth Foundation--Heavy Pop

And now for my five favorite new artists of 2010 (even though, as I said before, my taste is growing increasingly old man-esque and I'm not digging new artists as much):

Daniel Bjarnasson
James Blake
Janelle Monae

And, finally, the ten releases in 2010 that I'm most excited to hear. Some are already out and unheard by me, and some are coming out in the future.

Antony & The Johnsons--Swanlights (October 6)
The Arcade Fire--The Suburbs (August 3)
The Avalanches--TBA (TBA)
Battles--TBA (TBA)
Big Boi--Sir Lucious Leftfoot: The Song of Chico Dusty (July 6)
The Books--The Way Out (July 20)
Devo--Something For Everybody (June 15)
Oneohtrix Point Never--Returnal (out)
Pocahaunted--Make It Real (out)
Rene Hell--Porcelain Opera (out)

There you have it. A hell of a first half for 2010, and here's to hoping the year isn't too top-heavy.

Song of The Day #045

"Igneous Ejaculation" by John Zorn

How can you not love a song called "Igneous Ejaculation"? (Well, that's assuming you can call this piece of music a "song".) Part of the noise medley in the middle of Naked City's debut, this song is just that: noise. 24 seconds of aggressive noise. And it's awesome.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Song of The Day #044

"Round and Round" by Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti

I've always had kind of a "I think he's cool and respect what he's doing but don't actually love the music" type of attitude towards Ariel Pink. And his many years worth of tape-hiss-y experimental pop indeed warrant respect--but "Round and Round" warrants much more than just respect. Composed of various sonic chapters or suites, it meanders around glossily before finding itself in its chorus: a rousing hook-y gem. It's schlocky, it's overwhelming, and it's a damn great song that I felt I needed to give credit after sleeping on it earlier this year.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Song of The Day #043

"S.P.Q.R." by This Heat

As heavy and feedback-y as this song is, it's one of This Heat's more accessible tunes. Heck, it's even kinda catchy. Thrashing guitars buzz for the song's entirety and the vocals drone on top. It's got a Rhys Chatham-iness to it in that it turns a mountain of ugly sounding, repetitive guitars into something kind of beautiful. Per usual, the lyrics concerned long-dead systems of government--in this case, the S.P.Q.R. of ancient Rome--and are intriguing. This is one of the best song's on Deceit, one of the finest post-punk/experimental albums of all time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Song of The Day #042

"School's Out" by Alice Cooper

Hate to be cliche, but today was indeed the last day of school. School's out for summer; school's been blown to pieces. What a feeling.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Song of The Day #041

"Eat, Sleep" by Prinzhorn Dance School

An anthem for most people (or at least me), this song consists of a bare-bones bassline, a tinny guitar lick, sparse drum hits, and the repeated yelling of the title (sometimes in German). Prinzhorn Dance School likes to eat and they like to sleep, and they like to make those facts known. It's a great song with a great message. And they're a great band. I hope they come out with another LP soon.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Song of The Day #040

"Nobody's Dirty Business" by Mississippi John Hurt

One of the most peculiar, violent, honest, and beautiful songs by one of the greatest musicians ever.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Song of The Day #039

"Kings of the Wild Frontier" by Adam & The Ants

New royal fam-ly
A wild nobility
We are the fam-ly

Lots of heavy drums
Lots of makeup and cool clothes
And repetition

Friday, June 4, 2010

Song of The Day #038

"Honey" by Erykah Badu

I saw Erykah Badu with Janelle Monae and N.E.R.D. last night at the Chicago Theatre. Needless to say, it was an awesome show. Each act was loads of fun and thoroughly professional. Though Janelle was probably my favorite, I have to give some credit to headliner Erykah Badu. "Honey", off of Badu's awesome New Amerykah Part 1 is one of her funkiest tracks, with synth-blips and wah-heavy guitar making the track bounce like a Parliament song. And the video is pretty neat, too.

The Roots Picnic

Do you love The Roots? Do you love picnics? Few people on this planet don't like either of those things, so I'm guessing you do. Tomorrow, June 5th, in Philadelphia, The Legendary Roots Crew are hosting a big ol' picnic featuring some seriously awesome live music. The Roots will be joined by one-of-my-favorite-live-acts The Very Best, soul singer Nneka, Wu-Tang star Method Man, some indie band that everyone seems to love (Vampire Weekend), newcomers Bajah + The Dry Eye Crew, and more. That last group (Bajah + The Dry Crew) is a pretty awesome dancehall/hip-hop group that's starting to get some pretty good hype--along with backing from The Roots, Talib Kweli, and, my favorite, El-P. Bajah is hosting a contest giving away tickets to the Picnic, so if you want to go to this--and anyone in or near Philly should--enter the contest. If you don't win, buy tickets anyways. Support live music. Support picnics. (Details below.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Song of The Day #037

"Ebo Lala" by Mulatu Astatke

I was recently turned on to this guy, and boy was I missing out. Astatke's brand of jazz is wildly eclectic, moving between traditional jazz, Ethiopian music, funk and more--often doing so mid-song. "Ebo Lala" consists of a start and stop funk groove with heavy, Ethiopian percussion and semi-infrequent, but great, horns. The centerpiece though is the group vocals, which chant the title over and over again with little variation. Great tune by a guy worth investigating more.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Song of The Day #036

"Something In The Air" by Thunderclap Newman

That piano solo. It doesn't make sense. It's entirely out of place. And yet it makes this song the classic that it is.