Thursday, September 30, 2010

Song of The Day #127

"Throw Some Water In" by Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters

Just some nice dirty reggae from Mr. Perry. "Throw Some Water In" comes from the group's landmark Roast Fish, Collie Weed, And Cornbread, and it shares much of that album's reverb-y texture. Backed by female backup singers, a pulsating beat, plenty of delay, and sound effects that sound suspiciously like bong hits. I would expect nothing less.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Song of The Day #126

"Killer Blow" by Sade

I feel like I don't like this song, but I keep on listening to it. What is my brain trying to telling me? That I secretly like over-produced, bouncy jazz-pop? Well, no. But when it's Sade doing the over-produced, bouncy jazz-pop, the result is much more palatable. The fact that it comes from a movie I like very much in which it fits the mood very well only adds to the song's palatability.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Song of The Day #125

"Woe Is The Transgression" by Oneohtrix Point Never

Like most of Daniel Lopatin's work, "Woe Is The Transgression" is a sprawling retro-synth soundscape that's as strange as it is beautiful. (I set myself up to start this next sentence with "But unlike most of Mr. Lopatin's work..." but then I realized that this song isn't really atypical for him. So that's that. It's awesome nonetheless.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Morrissey's Favorite Songs

Since we all love Morrissey, we must all care what Morrissey's thirteen favorite songs ever are, right? Right. Seriously, though, I do always find it interesting to see what amazing artists listen to. Kurt Cobain turned me on to Beat Happening, and it was Irmin Schmidt who first informed me about Stockhausen. Morrissey's selections make decent sense in the context of his own artistic output, and I like the songs on the list that I've heard--especially #2. That's a classic. The list is as follows:

13. Mr. Bloe--Groovin' With Mr. Bloe
12. Roxy Music--Do The Strand
11. The Supremes--I'm Livin' In Shame
10. Paul Jones--I've Been A Bad, Bad Boy
9. The Crystals--All Grown Up
8. Shocking Blue--Mighty Joe
7. Al Martino--Granada
6. Buffy Sainte-Marie--Soldier Blue
5. The Tams--Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy
4. Bob & Marcia--Young, Gifted & Black
3. The Sundown Playboys--Saturday Night Special
2. Sparks--This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us
1. New York Dolls--Jet Boy

Interesting choices. Can't say my list would be at all similar, but, then again, I can't say I've written anything fit for Morrissey to wipe his ass with. So who am I to criticize?

Song of The Day #124

"Jealous Kids" by Mu

The semi-consonant, farty synth blurps and subsequent 4/4 kick drum that kick off "Jealous Kids" suggest that, by Mu's standards, this is gonna be a pretty straightforward tune. When the vocals come in, they're intelligible--a rare occurrence in the group's often shouty brand of electroclash. And the song maintains a certain accessibility throughout that makes it one of their best songs, and certainly one of their least headache-inducing. All that said, though, "Jealous Kids" is not at all a pop song. It has its requisite (for Mu at least) dub freakouts and shrieking frequencies, and the vocals, while intelligible, are what some may call "very weird". I love Mu, and I'm sad they are no longer--but they can be a tough listen.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Song of The Day #123

"No Reply" by The Beatles

I was shocked, or at least mildly surprised, that The Beatles hadn't been represented by Song of The Day. While they're not necessarily my favorite band (they're up there), they're without a doubt the most important rock/pop group ever--and I've listened to their music throughout my life more than anyone else's. I picked "No Reply" because it opens Beatles For Sale, which I've been playing a lot lately. While it's a universally accepted truth that Beatles albums post-Help! are the best, their earlier, pre-1965, rock n' roll albums are among the finest albums ever made, too. Of those ones, my favorite is still A Hard Day's Night, but Beatles For Sale--I've decided this week--is a close second. You can tell when you're listening to it that the band was on their way to bigger, fancier, better things. There are few covers, and each original has a sonic uniqueness to it that was to be replicated and improved upon on Rubber Soul and all its successors--not to mention the album cover, whose near-worldlessness hints at the artistic integrity of the band that would be further exemplified by each subsequent release. "No Reply" is one of my favorite songs on the album and is really a standout Beatles track, even if it doesn't get the kind of press that "Eight Days A Week" does.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Song of The Day #122

"The Sermon" by Jimmy Smith

Gotta love that organ. In this piece, the opener of the album of the same name, Jimmy Smith (not the ex-Jaguar receiver) pounds his Hammond, pouring his soul into this fusion of gospel, blues, and jazz that plods on for over twenty minutes. That his backing band includes Lee Morgan, Lou Donaldson, and Art Blakey among others doesn't the piece's swing and precision. As great as Blakey is, though, at the end of the day it's all about that organ.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Song of The Day #121

"Fall" by Vitor Joaquim

I don't know really anything about the song or the artist, but this is a nice piece of electroacoustic to end the schoolweek with. It fuzzes and builds and is thick and moody throughout.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Song of The Day #120

"Can You Feel It" by Mr. Fingers

This song isn't quite as sleazy as its name (and producer) would suggest, but it's pretty close. One can definitely imagine dirty things being done while "Can You Feel It"s bouncy synth plays naughtily in the background. The smooth cymbal hits and dreamy synth washes only help its porno feel. But dirty isn't necessarily a bad thing, and in the case of this song, it's definitely not a bad thing. It's actually a fun, danceable, minimal, intellectual, quintessentially Chicago thing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Song of The Day #119

"Past Present and Future" by Demon Fuzz

How can you not like a band called Demon Fuzz? Seriously though, their brand of psychedelic, proto-metal, afropop funk is pretty irresistible. It's as funky as it is heavy, and it's very, very heavy. This song, an instrumental that came out in the '70s, starts off as a massive stoner-metal guitar anthem before blossoming into a horn-laden funk jam. It swings like that for a few minutes, and it's so much fun. And then it gets pretty heavy again. Demon Fuzz, oh how we miss thee.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Poll Results: '90s One-Hit Wonders

So the '90s... I don't really feel like writing much. Your favorite '90s one-hit wonder was a tie between Deee-lite's glorious "Groove Is In The Heart" and Hanson's scrumptious "Mmmbop". I'm over polls for now, so no more for a while. Thanks for votin'.

Song of The Day #118

"Here's Rico" by John Swihart

Yes, this is part of the Napoleon Dynamite score, and, yes, that's part of the reason it's makes he so happy when I hear it. But this little tune, and much of that score in general, is very funky and fun to listen to outside the context of the amazing movie it was composed for. Here's Rico, indeed. (The link is not to the actual track, but there's an excerpt of it starting at around 0:24.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Song of The Day #117

"Ring The Alarm Quick" by Tenor Saw

This song just makes me realize I need to listen to more dancehall.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Song of The Day #116

"Fantastic Analysis" by Mouse On Mars

You don't hear too much about Mouse On Mars these days. Are they still together? I'm sure I could look that up, but I don't really feel like opening a new window and then having to search and then clicking back to this window and do all the other things required to search for something on Google or Wikipedia. Anyways, I really like Mouse On Mars, and I have most of their music on account of I once torrented their entire discography. At the time, I thought that might be excessive and unnecessary seeing as I didn't know much about them, but when I hear songs like "Fantastic Analysis", that torrent seems worth it. (Granted, I probably shouldn't advertise that I own all of Mouse On Mars' albums without paying for a single one. Sorry Mouse On Mars.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Song of The Day #115

"You Don't Know" by Ellie Greenwich

In honor of the holiday--the most important day of the year--this SOTD goes out to one of the most creative, interesting Jews in the history of songwriting, which is saying a lot because there are thousands of Jews, from Gershwin to Dylan and beyond, who could write a mean song. But Ellie Greenwich is forever one of our best, having penned some of the finest ever pop songs. "You Don't Know" isn't necessarily her best song or anything, but it's very very good and very cinematic. Plus, she sings it, which makes the achievement all the more impressive.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Favorite Songs of The 1990s, Pt. 3

This is the third and final installment--a.k.a. the top sixty--of my My Favorite Songs of The 1990s list. Woo hoo. To reiterate...

The music of the 1990s is my music, or so I feel. Even though I was still pretty young when the decade came to a close, I was old enough to have been transformed by its culture. I was old enough to have breathed its air, watched its cartoons, and played with its action figures. And I was old enough to hear its music. (P.S. My sister deserves credit for my knowledge and love of Hanson, as well as many other of the '90s finest pop acts, from Aaliyah to TLC to New Radicals to etc. etc. etc.)

Well here we are: the end. Below you'll find my absolute most favorite-est favorite songs of the decade that bore me. These sixty songs are... I don't even know. They're just awesome. Enjoy. (Oh, and if you haven't perused the first two parts of the list, the honorable mentions are here and #s 180 through 61 are here.)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Song of The Day #114

I've kinda been consumed by this '90s list, listening to exclusively music that came out between 1990 and 1999 because, well, I get really into my phases--and I want to deliver the best, most educated list I can. I was able, though, to take a break from '90s mania to inject a bit of space disco into my day, which came in the form of Space Project's "Conquest Of The Stars". It's pretty cheesy--it's disco, after all--and it sounds a wee bit like a George Lucas film's score. But it's awesome and tons o' fun nonetheless.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Favorite Songs of The 1990s, Pt. 2

The music of the 1990s is my music, or so I feel. Even though I was still pretty young when the decade came to a close, I was old enough to have been transformed by its culture. I was old enough to have breathed its air, watched its cartoons, and played with its action figures. And I was old enough to hear its music.

Now we're on to the real part of the list, the juicy stuff, the stuff that matters. Below you'll find my 180th favorite song of the '90s through my 61st favorite. There are some great tunes here, some songs that are forever ingrained in my brain and--I know this is lame to say--my soul. So peruse the selections and argue if you feel the need (but maybe wait to argue until the whole thing is revealed). Enjoy.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

My Favorite Songs of The 1990s, Pt. 1

Ah, the '90s...

The music of the 1990s is my music, or so I feel. Even though I was still pretty young when the decade came to a close, I was old enough to have been transformed by its culture. I was old enough to have breathed its air, watched its cartoons, and played with its action figures. And I was old enough to hear its music.

Nearly all of my earliest, most transformative, most influential music memories deal with songs from the '90s, most of which are on this list. From first humming along to the striking power-pop of Hanson to awkwardly grooving to the soul music of TLC to eventually getting my mind blown and falling in love with rock n' roll after first hearing, you guessed it, Nirvana--the music of the '90s is ingrained in my DNA like The Stones or The Who are in that of a baby boomer. Even if a lot of my favorite albums/artists/songs of all time nowadays come from other decades, this '90s music will always be with me as my first: my first experience with music and the power it has.

Obviously I didn't hear all of these songs actually in the '90s when they came out. (I would've been a pretty cool six-year-old listening to Guided By Voices or Aphex Twin, huh?) But many of them did blast from my six-year-old boombox, and the ones that came later have often had equally profound effects on me. While you look at this list, you may question a few of the choices if they're stupid pop songs, but remember that some of these stupid pop songs are the reason I love music, and this is a list of my favorites. A list of my 180 favorite songs of this particular decade (plus 60 honorable mentions). So there.

While you look at this list, you may also think, "He's ripping off Pitchfork," and, well, you're a little right, I guess. It was indeed their list that inspired me to make my own. But there are a few differences, namely the restrictions that are on the list--see, I didn't put any concrete restrictions on what could be on and what couldn't (except for, of course, that each song needed to be released between 1990 and 1999). I did, however, semi-try to limit single artists' number of songs to around four or five or six in order to allow for some diversity, but I wasn't too strict on anything. Now that all that's out of the way, let's get to the list.

Song of The Day #113

"Shortnin' Bread" by The Ready Men

Oh man. A plantation song messed with and turned into a batshit crazy, semi-tasteless garage rock anthem? What could be better?

VH1's Greatest Artists Ever (Plus My Favorites)

So I just finished watching the fifth hour of VH1's special on the 100 greatest musical artists of ALL TIME (a.k.a. since the 1950s). Yes, I'm a loser, and no, I don't have anything better to do with my time than watch five hours of pointless commentary from stupid people about bands I--for the most part--don't even like all that much. Regardless, I watched it, and, seeing as it's a list, I wanted to share some of my thoughts...

It's a dumb idea for a list in the first place. I mean, best artists ever? Well to be fair, in VH1 terms, "best artists ever" means "best rock/pop/soul/hip-hop artists since 1950"--which is still a stupid idea for a list. In addition to it being a bad idea (way too broad), it was poorly curated. VH1 asked over two hundred musicians (many of them bad) to make half-assed ballots of their favorite artists and then compiled them into a largely nonsensical list. I could go through all 100 and state my beefs with each, but I'd rather watch another VH1 special.

All that said, the top ten, though safe, is hard to argue with. It, along with some of my favorite artists, is posted below and the whole VH1 list is, uh, on VH1. So watch it!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Song of The Day #112

"Africa" by Oliver Lake/NTU

This track's all I know by Mr. Lake, but I should really look into more of his material on account of this piece here is pretty flippin' awesome. It starts like a work of modern minimalism before devolving, or rather evolving (depending o how you look at it), into a chaotic mess of African sounds and rhythms before devolving, or perhaps evolving, into a post-bop/pre-fusion Afro-jazz excursion. I figured it was from the late-60s or early '70s by its sound, but I was still a little surprised when I learned that it's from '71. I'm always surprised when I hear older music this unique and contemporary, though.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Song of The Day #111

Happy new year, everyone! It's 5771, but, let's face it: That ain't nothing but a number. You know what else ain't nothing but a number? Age. And in this, her debut single, Aaliyah makes that fact abundantly clear. Whether the song is about her semi-creepy relationship with R. Kelly or the Jewish new year or something else altogether, it's a seductive bit of early-90s R&B that, while awesome, only hints at the oddball genius R&B Aaliyah would go on to put out in subsequent years. She was one of the genre's (and the decade's) most interesting voices, and it's a real shame she died. R.I.P.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Song of The Day #110

"Dizzy Dizzy" by Can

On "Dizzy Dizzy", Can brings the funk, albeit funk of the spaced-out-avant-garde variety. Among their first tracks sans Damo Suzuki or Malcolm Mooney, the wacky German members of Can make due with their own voices, and, as it turns out, Michael Karoli and co. are pretty good singers themselves. Much is written about Can and their influence because, well, it's just so prevalent--but songs like "Dizzy Dizzy" kind of elevate Can above that "these guys are really influential" stage. Can is arguably the most interesting and creative band ever. (And, it's worth noting, they now join Sinatra, Waits, and Alice Cooper as the only artists to claim two SOTDs.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Song of The Day #109

"Cindy C." by Prince

The Song of The Day archives needed themselves some more Prince, so... here you go archives. Enjoy your Prince. This tune, off of Prince's mythical Black Album (slated for release just after Sign 'O' The Times but pulled back for a variety of reasons), is just weird enough, using ideas Prince established previously on the aforementioned Sign but also serving as a bridge to Prince's cheesier, '90s-ier, slightly worse (but equally sleazy) '90s work.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Favorite School Songs

Happy Labor Day everyone! Well, maybe I shouldn't say "happy"; for most kids, Labor Day isn't a very happy holiday at all. It means it's time for school, and, even if it also means there'll be a nice barbecue at Uncle Chester's this evening, that feeling makes most kids feel uneasy at best, terrified at worst. But to make the transition from the carefree-ness of summer to the care-ness of fall, I've selected some of my favorite school-related songs. These twenty-four all have something to do with the school experience (learning, studying, teaching, etc.)--even if some only really relate to school because of their name. Regardless, these are my favorite school songs, and listening to them will hopefully get you in the mood to hit those books again:

Song of The Day #108

"Red Mask" by Cabaret Voltaire

A band that I've for a long time known by name but not by sound, Cabaret Voltaire--I now know--are actually very good. Their post-punk/pre-industrial noise rock is both innovative and influential, even if it is a little tough to listen to at times.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Song of The Day #107

"The Fog: End Title" by John Carpenter

Great movie, great score. (I use the word "great" semi-loosely.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pitchfork's Top Songs of the 1990s

After all that anticipation (that is, if you cared at all), Pitchfork's 200 best songs of the '90s are all published on the interweb. Overall the list is interesting, full of many songs I don't know and many I do and enjoy. Do I agree with everything? Well, no. But that's okay. It's also hard to gauge whether or not I agree with placements, on account of I haven't made my own list.

The top twenty (with some of my reactions) and my predictions (made on Wednesday) are after the jump. Tell me what you think about the list.

Song of The Day #106

"Blackmail" by 10cc

I usually can't stand overly complex, overly produced art rock/yacht rock from the '70s, but there's something about 10cc that makes me unable to hate them. "Blackmail" is just so much fun, and it's clear that they don't take themselves too seriously, like some of their contemporaries (that means you Steely Dan) do. It's just hard not to enjoy, or at least laugh at, songs like this.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Thoughts: Pitchfork's Top Songs of The '90s

Because I've no better post ideas and we all care about Pitchfork's lists and opinions, I'll offer some thoughts on their not-yet-all-the-way-revealed list: best songs of the 1990s.

It's a sprawling list thus far, covering all the myriad genres and subgenres that were popular during that weird, wild decade. I'm glad they've given due respect to faux-alternative pop hits ("Flagpole Sitta", "Lovefool", "You Get What You Give", etc.--although I think all those should have been placed higher) and nu-R&B smashes ("No Diggity", "Doo Wop (That Thing)", "The Crossroads", etc.--although, again, those should be higher). Plenty of my favorites are on the list thus far, even if they're not exactly where I would put them.

One thing I ain't too keen on: the one song per artist rule. I get that you want diversity. I get that you want to show off that you can make a list of songs by 200 unique artists. But let's face it: This is a list of the best songs of the decade. Some artists made more than one amazing song. For instance, because Modest Mouse's "Trailer Trash" is on the list, all other Modest Mouse songs--including several that in this writer's opinion are better than "Trailer Trash"--from the '90s are out of play. Because "Last Goodbye" is on the list, "Hallelujah" can't be. TLC scored with "Creep" which means no "Waterfalls". Lame. (I could give plenty more snubs (Tricky) but I don't feel like scouring the list any more.) And I know that there's that "see also" business under each song's blurb, but that don't cut it for me. If a song is great, it should be on the list. So there.

Finally, for some predictions about the top 50, which will come out Thursday and Friday. While this list is harder to predict than the '00s ones because there aren't any previously published lists of Pitchfork's favorite '90s songs (i.e. Best Tracks of 1996, etc.), I'mma give it a go. (Some are obvious.) (Predictions after the jump.)

Song of The Day #105

"Noise Ramones" by Boredoms

More noise and less Ramones, "Noise Ramones" is a nice little half-minute nugget of feedback and uncomfortable frequencies by a band who knows about all there is to know about feedback and uncomfortable frequencies.