Monday, October 30, 2006

Monday Morning Shuffle

1. Raum Der Zeit – Wizo, off of Survival of the Fattest
You know those songs that you love, but they just aren’t in your native language? Then you end up learning all the words -- or just the sounds of the words anyway -- but you have no idea what it means or what you’re saying and yet you can't stop singing it? Yeah, you all have one. I know it.
Well this is that song for me. It’s in German, and I’m pretty sure it’s an anti-nazi song or something like that. I’m too lazy to find the words right now but I’m pretty sure the translation is available somewhere. Here’s the thing, it’s a German punk song, and it sounds exactly like you’d expect a German punk song to sound. Lots of words that sound like their being fed through a wood-chipper and some chanting. In other words, it’s a good fist-pumping song. Download it. Or I’ll send it to you.

2. One-Armed Man - Project 86, off of Drawing Black Lines
Wow, my iTunes is obviously in a hardcore mood this morning. Another great fist-pumping, head-nodding, mosh-pit song. These guys reached their peak for me back in the POD, Christian hardcore, roadie for Freeverse days. (If you don’t know what Freeverse is, you’ve probably found this blog by accident, but just ask me.) I saw these guys at the old Mason Jar (no, it wasn’t the Jar, what was the other venue? I can’t remember. It was closed because they were selling drugs out of it. And we had a high-school battle of the bands in the basement. Somebody help. The Nile Theater?) in Mesa and it was absolutely the hottest concert I’ve ever been to. It was in July or August with no air conditioning and I wore jeans and moshed in the 2nd row the whole time. I thought I was going to pass out. Anyway, this is a hardcore sing-along song and it’s pretty inspirational. It’s a good song to work hard to, it makes you want to do good things. And I think it just found itself a place on the half-marathon playlist.

3. Taylor – Jack Johnson, off of On and On
And now for something completely different… I was really feeling the harder tunes this morning and the shuffle threw me for a loop. Oh well. I love the guitar at the beginning of this song. It makes me want to play my guitar. But then I’d pick it up and by the time I got it tuned and realized that I don’t know how to play, I’d get bored and frustrated and put it away and that would just be a waste of time. I don’t have to tell you that this is a good song and that Jack Johnson is good, and supremely cool. But most of his songs sound exactly the same. Are we sure he didn’t write songs for Everclear?

4. Braun Yr Aur - Led Zeppelin
This is a song I stumbled upon through Coheed & Cambria. C&C has this little guitar ditty at the end of their most recent CD. It’s kind a secret song deal and nobody really knows what it is called or what its relevance to the CD is but it sounds a little like Braun Yr Aur and so people just started calling it that. So I downloaded the actual Braun Yr Aur and although I hear a resemblance, the 2 songs are pretty different. I’m not sure how anyone made this connection. Anyway, it’s a cool short little guitar thing and if you’re into that I’m sure you’ll like this. In the words of Nole, “Listen to Led Zeppelin.”

5. Black and White Town – Doves, off of Some Cities
I’ve been waiting for these guys to pop up for a while so I could suggest them to you. They’re kind of a trendy choice right now but my friend Tim Hill recommended them to me and I’m a fan. This is probably the most eligible single off of this CD but I recommend listening to the CD as a whole. It’s kind of a lost art these days but CDs should be listened to from start to finish. A lot of people put a lot of effort into making the songs fit together in a certain way in order to make the CD tell a story and inject it’s various moods into your experience while you’re listening. Sure it doesn’t work with Britney Spears CDs but some bands are good enough to pull this off. This is one of them. As always, I’m more than happy to burn and/or IM this CD to you. It’s a good one and I highly suggest them.

I’m off to run and put some more thought into the half-marathon playlist. Keep the suggestions coming. I’ll be unveiling a good chunk of the list on Wednesday.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A City By The Light Divided

Coming from the file of CDs I was originally completely disappointed with,Thursday’s new (well, relatively new) “A City by the Light Divided.”
After the amazingness that was “War All The Time,” I was really excited for this CD. The name sounded good and I was looking forward to being into a new CD for a few weeks. You know those albums where that’s all you want to listen to nonstop? Well I really, really needed one of those. And this wasn’t it.
The day the CD released, I hit Best Buy on the way home from work, ripped off the impossible-to-open wrapper and plugged that baby in. Now my car isn’t worthy of pimp my ride or anything, but it has a GOOD sound system. I made sure of it when I bought the thing. So when the first few notes hit in this thunderous crescendo to open the album, I was psyched. So then when Geoff Rickley, the lead singer, unleashed what is usually a rivetingly unique brand of vocal mayhem, it came through my speakers as more of a whisper. Still the music was thrashing for the first 2 tracks so I was willing to give the rest of the CD a chance. By track 3 however, the disk was out of my player. It was a quiet song, you couldn’t hear the vocals and it just wasn’t good. My hopes and dreams for this CD were shattered.
Still, the first 2 songs stuck in my mind as good hardcore music that I had enjoyed listening to. A few months later, one of those first 2 songs came across my shuffle on my computer and the sound was better. Rickley was still quiet, but not to such an unnoticeable extent. I checked the reviews on the internet and many others were complaining about the same issues with the vocals. I stopped blaming the band and started blaming the producers. They didn’t have the levels on the vocals high enough and that’s what caused the CD to suck.
So anyway, I ended up throwing the CD into the clock CD player in my bathroom. BINGO. Without too many equalizers or settings, the small speakers in my clock radio had the perfect tone to make this CD finally sound the way it was supposed to sound. Even track 3, the song that previously killed the CD for me got pretty good. So once I could get past 3, I got to experience track 4, “At this Velocity”, which is classic Thursday “screamo” and archetypical Rickley lyrics like “We're placed on a plane pointed straight down/Traveling at five hundred feet per second/Five thousand feet from the ground.” The imagery and the metaphor is just what you expect from these guys in their lyrics, it’s just too bad you can’t hear them.
A City by the Light Divided feels like an addendum to the first 2 full-length Thursday albums. “At this Velocity” and the opening track “The Other Side of The Crash” are obvious references to previous songs. It’s almost like they didn’t fit all they wanted into those CDs so they released this CD of afterthoughts. It isn’t a bad thing; in fact, it’s kind of interesting to watch their thought process and evolution throughout these albums.
My favorite song on the CD is “The Lovesong Writer” not because it’s an especially interesting sounding song, but simply because of these lyrics: “Sitting alone in the dark of a stadium/He whispers his secrets into a cheap guitar/With the flick of his wrist he turns words into melodies/Chords into church bells, fill up the allies/Lovers entwine in the heat of the night/And by dawn are apart in the shivering silences/We will pretend
That it’s all just made up.”
Here’s the bottom line: If you’re a Thursday fan and you haven’t heard this CD, definitely check it out, and play it on a player with small speakers. If you’ve never heard a Thursday song, I would suggest buying "Full Collapse", falling in love with it, then buying "War All The Time", becoming obsessed with it, then in about a year or two, buy "A City By The Light Divided." Hopefully by then, they’ll have the sound worked out, and by then, you’ll have a better appreciation of just what these songs mean. Have fun.

p.s. Since I’m now hooked on running and will be spending at least 2 hours running at least 13.1 miles this coming January, I’m working on a 2-hour playlist for what I’ll be listening to during the half-marathon. I’ve got some great ideas, but it’s 2 hours and I’ll need help.
I figure that I need 35-40 songs and I’m going to need to organize them in 4.3 mile (or about 40-50 minute) sections. My attitude will be changing during this race from excitement, to needing a steady rhythm, to needing to ignore pain, to needing to dig deep, to needing a triumphant few songs to finish the last half mile or so. I have some ideas, but I’d love some help. I’ll be posting a main blog for this soon and keeping a running (no pun intended) tally of all the ideas I have, until the playlist is finished.
Here’s my idea for track 1: Tom Petty – Running Down a Dream. What are your ideas?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday Morning Shuffle

This is coming dangerously close to becoming the Monday Afternoon Shuffle. I've been out of bed for a while, promise. It's just that i've been catching up on all the reading i missed out on during this Danny Bogen-inspired waste of a weekend. I swear, everytime that kid comes in town, my life expectancy loses a year or two. Oh well. Totally worth it.

1. Fleas - NOFX from Punk In Drublic
In the vein of other classic punk songs, this is under 2 minutes and is very uncomplicated. It's just a good, hard, 3-chord rocker that says what it wants and then ends. So punk right now. And a good one to get your blood pumping first thing on a Monday.

2. I Miss You - Incubus from Make Yourself
There was a time when this song was "that" song that made all the ladies swoon and gather around me and look at me with adoring, fawning eyes as i played it on the guitar. But then i quickly moved on to John Mayer's "Your Body is a Wonderland" when Incubus came out with their most recent CD which dropped their band from popularity faster than a lead fart. I'll admit that i used to worship this CD. I thought their lyrics were genius, they had a nice balance of nice melodies and hard rock and i really thought they were cool. I'm pretty sure now that it was just that time in my life when i was going through a lot of the feelings that this CD dealt with. Now that i'm over those feelings, i'm pretty much over the CD too. It also may have been because i wanted desperately to be the lead singer of a band and that Brandon's voice most closely resembled mine, at least for singing-in-the-car purposes.

3. Justice - Fivespeed from Trade In Your Halo
Fivespeed has shown up in this space before so there's not a ton else to say other than they're a great local band and you should really be listening to them.
This song is the last track on their first CD and it just has a really interesting and haunting quality to it.

4. The View - Modest Mouse from Good News for People Who Love Bad News
Those people who knew Modest Mouse before this CD came out will argue that this album really doesn't compare to anything the did previously as if now that everyone knows them, they're no longer any good. Whether that is true or not, i can't debate because i'm just getting on the Modest Mouse bandwago myself. But i like this CD and i really don't think it's as mainstream as the old fans accuse it of being. There are still some very funky beats and some very indie tendencies that will keep this album from really being "mainstream." By that, i mean that the Justin Timberlake crowd won't understand this album.
The View is one of the more poppy songs on the album but by that i mean it sounds like the actually practiced it before recording it. And they write lyrics like lyrics were meant to be be written, full of symbolism, metaphor and hyperbole. It leasves something to decipher and figure out how it applies to you. That's a disappearing artform these days.

5. Kick Out The Jams - Rage Against the Machine from Renegades
This is a cover of an MC5 song that Rage that Rage remade for their Renegades album. Someone once said that making a greatest hits or cover album is basically code for a band saying "We're done, We've got nothing new left." And boy it was never more true than in the case of Rage. This was their last album of course. I thought they did a service to a younger generation with this album though, or at least a service to me. I would have never listened to Afrika Bambatta and the Soul Sonic Force or old Springsteen or EPMD or E-40 if it wasn't for this CD and my curiosity about what the original songs sounded like. And so i'm grateful for this album because it exposed me to some great hip-hop and other types of revolution and protest music. I'm glad i didn't miss out on that. There's a great story behind this song at Wikipedia. Here's the link.

Alright, that's the Monday Morning (afternoon) Shuffle for this week. I'll post something new on Wednesday. Fight the power.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Teen Angst Top Five

This site promises top five lists, and so it's about time that i finally get down to one. This is called the Teen Angst Top Five, not because all these songs are angstful, but because that's what i was listening to when i was an unhappy teenager (some may argue that i still am, but that's another topic for another day.). And in a new wrinkle, most of these music videos are on, so i'm posting the links so you can enjoy. Just click on the song name and it'll take you there.

#5. Buddy Holly - Weezer - Blue Album
It was a hard choice between this and "The Sweater Song" and really, both should be here. But, when pressed, i had to go with Buddy Holly. I think the video put me over the top, really. This wasn't so much an angstful album so much as an album that so completely articulated the awkwardness of being that age it was scary. On "Only In Dreams" my favorite line is "It's a good thing you float in the air, that way i won't crush your pretty toenails into a thousand pieces." And after Kevin on the Wonder Years and all those other shows set all us boys up for being retarded at every school dance, while the girls were more mature and always looked like they were having more fun while we just stood against the wall afraid of rejection and stepping on toes, i mean, that was just the Blue Album. I don't know of any guy my age that didn't have it. Except for Danny Bogen, who for some reason always liked rap. But he's it.

#4. Eat The Rich - Aerosmith - Get A Grip
There was an age when swearing became suddenly OK. And then it was more than OK, it was cool, and you were lame if you didn't. I remember exactly where i was when i first said Fuck. (In the desert behind Sonoran Sky elementary school, on the land that is now the JCC.) Matt Mahonen made me say it to get into their fort, and it probably took me a good 15 minutes to work up the courage. And damn wasn't that a slippery slope. But this CD also came out when the parents of America were freaking out about music and slapping parental advisory stickers on everything and my mom was one of those moms that paid attention to that stuff. So i had to hide those CDs or blackout the advisory label with a magic marker and only listen to those CDs on my headphones. So Eat The Rich was such a battle cry (even though i was a spoiled little rich kid), just because it had a cuss word in it that my mom wouldn't have liked. That's a big step for kids that age. That and the pierced cow udder on the CD cover. That was awesome.

#3. Enter Sandman - Metallica - Black Album
I'm not going to lie. I was a masssssssssssssiive Metallica fan. Every CD, every lyric, every b-side, every book, DVD, box set, everything. I loved them. I played bass like Jason Newsted, i even sang in a Metallica cover band for like a month. But this song was without a doubt my first love. This song was the door that opened up Metallica to me. Before i liked Metallica, i liked country. Then i started playing hockey with my good friend Doug and we listened to Metallica in his front yard while playing. I started to get the songs stuck in my head and eventually bought the tape...yeah that's right, the tape. Enter Sandman just had that kick to it, that chorus and that thrash that you just couldn't escape. It was perfect angry kid music. And it still is really. I liked them from about 6th grade on through to the day Jason left the band. I can still remember Alissa Butler walking down the hall towards me during 7th hour of high school with tears running down her face.

#2 - Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden - Superunknown
Speaking of tragic break-ups. This one was a hard one for me too. But without delving into that, or my disappointment with Audioslave, let's just discuss this song, because there's plenty to say about it. From that opening guitar, to the first drum kick, to Chris' voice coming in, to the dark, twisted lyrics that made zero sense, it was just good. And for some reason it made sense then. Honestly the video for this song is probably the last time i watched a video straight through on MTV. And that had to be what 10 years ago? This has to be one of the creepiest and best videos ever made. And that's what it was about then. It wasn't a commercial for your band, it wasn't interrupted by some girl on Spring Break screaming "hi my names krystal from ButtFuck, Iowa and i voted for the black hole sun video because that guy doing push-ups at the end is so hot!WOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!" It was a video that reflected the music and told a story and was just done for the sake of the art form, not for any other reason. And it is just too weird to ever be done today. Nobody would do it, because it wouldn't make any sense, it would scare children and it wouldn't be marketable. That's the bottom line, plain and simple. You couldn't make money on this today, because it would scare all the little cookie-cutter children we've created away. I'm going to watch this video about 9 more times before the day is over.

#1 - Bad Habit - The Offspring - Smash
Of all the parental advisories, this was the all-time best. I mean, we didn't have our licenses yet, so really, we could only imagine what driving fast and cutting people off and giving them the finger and dropping a laundry list of expletives on them would feel like. But in the mean time, it really gave us some great artillery to throw at our friends and enemies at lunch and after school. I remember being super pissed at my parents and just playing this song over and over on my headphones. Usually on long car trips. And if i really got made at them, i would sing the lyrics out loud to the whole CD but just "beep" myself when the bad words came up. It's not like they didn't know what went there, it's just that i couldn't get in trouble for saying it. HAHA. This song (and really, the whole CD) has to be #1 because the Offspring did for the pissed off kids what Weezer did for the awkward ones. Just an entire CD of fuck you, i am who i am, screw you for judging me, fuck the popular kids, i hate you, you hate me, let's go break a window kinda tunes. And keep in mind, this was a while before they went all "weird-al yankovich" on us and stunk up the joint with that "Pretty Fly For a White Guy" song. God that song sucked.

The tragedy about all these bands is that they either no longer exist, or they completely suck. And I know you hardcore Weezer fans will argue, but the Beverly Hills song sucked and you know it.

Alright, here's my recommendation for the week. And it's fitting because i spent most of those angstful years listening to these songs with my friend Donny, who is in this band. They are local and are playing shows Friday night and Saturday night this week. They just released their first CD. Here is their Myspace. Check them out. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday Morning Shuffle

Welcome to the 3rd installment of Monday Morning Shuffle. And in other news, if anyone would like to start training for the PF Changs Rock and Roll half marathon with me, it'll be a great way to get exposed to some great music, and not a bad way to lose 20 lbs. I'm starting today, who's with me?

1. Baba O’Reilly – Pearl Jam live
This song, originally by the Who, is one of Pearl Jam’s favorite covers to play live. I saw them do it in high school at Desert Sky (Now Cricket) Pavilion. It had rained all day and was still raining when the concert started. We went anyway and took Hefty bags with us to keep dry. We cut arm and neck holes and stood there looking like the California Raisins waiting for the rain to stop. It cleared up and Eddie Vedder walked on stage and said, “The only reason we scheduled a tour through Arizona was to get out of the fucking rain.” And then they blew into a thrashing version of Evenflow that sent the muddy grass into a turmoil and cast the voices of this throng of people into the desert sky. Suffice to say it was an amazing concert and one of my favorites of all time. Luckily for us, Pearl Jam released a series of double-disk live albums and this song and all others are pretty damn easy to find live. Check them out, or better yet, go see Pearl Jam live if you have an opportunity. Even after all these years, you won’t be disappointed.

2. Ideas vs. Protocol – Rajiv Patel from The Retaliation for What They’ve Done to Us.
I get the feeling that every song coming up on this space is a great one and that I’m just completely suckling every song by every artist that comes up. That isn’t completely the case, I just really like music and I don’t have a ton of songs on my iTunes that I don’t like. The Retaliation for What They’ve Done to Us is a CD but it’s also a side project from the band Before Braille, one of the best Mesa/Tempe local bands around. Rajiv is their supremely talented guitarist and he has been apart of a ton of tremendous side and solo projects. Ideas vs. Protocol is just one song of 6 songs but it’s one of those CDs that just flows from song to song. They’re all interconnected and move seamlessly from song to song. In actuality this is a 27-minute instrumental rock opera that only gets messed up because the CD has to break in between tracks. They performed this act, if you want to call it that, only once at the Mesa Women’s Center in front of about 40 people. Nobody really knew what to expect but there were a lot of musicians and artists in the crowd with their jaws hanging open during the performance. Then, as soon as the music ended and after the applause had died down, people just turned around and said, “I’m going home to write songs.” Or “I’m going home to paint.” And I don’t know if it’s as inspirational listening to it on the CD but it is still damn good. And to be honest, if you want a 30-minute workout, plug this thing in, and work along with the beat of it. If you’re anything like me, the lows and the highs will coincide with your heart rate. And just because I like this CD so much, and because it’s probably hard to get, I’d be more than happy to burn it or IM it to anyone interested.

3. Callin’ Baton Rouge – Garth Brooks on The Hits
One of the greatest karaoke songs of all time. And one of the only country songs I like. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I love Garth. I spent more than a few drunken nights with my good friend Danny playing Madden and singing Garth at the top of our lungs. Good stuff.

4. One of Them – Jurassic 5 on Power in Numbers
A semi-decent song on a pretty good album. Highlights include What’s Golden, High Fidelity and I Am Somebody. And since I don’t really have anything else to say about that, Charlie 2Na is the most laid-back dude on the planet. When I saw them in Denver, he walks out on stage and in his trademark low voice, says “Deeeeennnnnnvvvvvveeeeerrrrr Cooooooollllllooorrrrraaddddooooo.” And he was wearing sweat pants and slippers. Quality.

5. Hey Leonardo – Blessid Union of Souls on Walking Off the Buzz
You just can’t deny BUOS. At all. They’re one of the most underrated pop acts of the mid- to late-nineties. They defined my Senior Prom, taught us about how love can overcome all kinds of things, including racist fathers and they articulated some pretty serious adolescent thoughts for those who took the time to listen. And all that was culminated by seeing them in concert at the Chandler Ostrich Festival, one of Arizona’s truly great venues. HA. If you have the CD, and I know you do, give it a play soon. You won’t regret it.

That’ll do it for this week’s shuffle. I think we’ll probably see me dig deep into the record collection for a special little treat on Wednesday.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bad News for fans of The Darkness

Justin Hawkins can't stop doing blow long enough to bring back 80s glam rock.

I like their first CD. And it looks now like i enjoyed their last CD.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Matt Costa

So I’m sitting on a plane from SLC to PHX and I’ve never been happier to own an iPod. One row in front, and on the opposite side of the aisle, sits perhaps the most heinous woman I have ever laid eyes on. She’s wearing black leggings, an impossibly ugly silver sweater and stupidly thin, “I’m trying to be trendy and young” style glasses to not only look plain retarded, but are probably impossible to read through. Her fat hands keep turning the pages of her book which she is not reading as she gestures wildly and speaks loudly to the lady across the aisle about how stylish and fashionable and rich she thinks she is. She spent 20 minutes making fun of the crap in the in-flight magazine, pretending that she’s so much better than that. (And if her sweater is any indication, she isn’t.) Since sitting in the airport bar near her, and then ending up on the same plane as her, I’ve seen her absolutely decimate at least 5 glasses of scotch and the volume of her voice is adjusting accordingly.

It’s this intro that I use to introduce you to Matt Costa. I’ve been pretending to know him for a little while now, but the last few days have been the first time I’ve had a chance to really dwell on and investigate his album, “Songs We Sing.” It takes a few listens to really get a good feel for a CD and I’m probably not even there yet, but I like to start writing a few listens in and then narrow down and sharpen my original thoughts as I get a better understanding of it.

In my dreams -- the ones where I’m a talented musician with a strong unapologetic voice and some serious guitar chops and I’m sitting at a campfire in the mountains of Colorado with many beautiful women gazing at me adoringly as I entertain the group with songs of tragedy and triumph that simultaneously paint me as a strong yet sensitive renaissance man who never wastes a minute of his precious time and always gets what he wants -- I am Matt Costa.

The guitar is the first thing you notice – and it’s track one and it’s the same chord being strummed repeatedly for about 30 seconds, but it’s good and it draws you in and there’s something about it that once his voice comes in, you just get the feeling that for the next 13 songs, something good is going to happen. And it’s good enough to drown out the most annoying of people. Thank god.

Costa ranges from some of the simplest bar sing-a-longs like “Sunshine” to some more complex tunes like “Sweet Thursday”. But if you’re in a basic mood and just want to hear some good, solid, unassuming, unpretentious tunes, then give Matt Costa a listen. He’s the kind of guy who should be playing Friday nights in a loud bar with a big dance floor, instead he has a CD, so put it on and swing your lady around the living room a few times (Behind the Moon, especially).

There isn’t much else to say, so I’ll wrap up by saying that eventually I’ll pick a CD I don’t like and just skewer it. But for now, I’m having fun listening to music I actually like, so I may stick with that for a while.

Attention People Who Still Buy CDs

Tower Records is going out of business, closing its doors and selling its inventory at bargain basement prices. If you want Cds Movies or any of the other shit they sell there, get there soon.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday Morning Shuffle

I meant to post at least once more last week but I went out of town on short notice and had no internet connection for 4 days. Frightening at first and yet, oddly relaxing once I got used to it. On with the shuffle.

1. My Favorite Things – John Coltrane from “The Very Best of Coltrane”
This is jazz music at its finest and my absolute favorite song on the CD. I couldn’t have picked a better first song for the Monday Morning Shuffle if I had tried. Coltrane and his band riff on and solo and pretty much disect the Favorite Things song from Sound of Music for 13 minutes and 45 seconds. I’m just going to stop typing now and listen to the rest of it….

2. Streets of Laredo – Johnny Cash from “American IV: The Man Comes Around”
Not one of my favorite songs from this CD but not a bad one either. There’s a pretty big distance between the two John’s we’ve started off with this morning. And I can’t say I was in the mood for this one. According to Nole, the newest post-mortem Cash release, American V, is awesome and I should go pick it up soon. So I’ll do that. And then probably review it. Unless Nole wants to? Whaddya say Nole?

3. Everywhere – Michelle Branch from “The Spirit Room”
It was tough to stop laughing about this one but before she went all hill-billy on me, I really liked Michelle Branch. And she’s from Sedona or something, so that’s cool too. Gotta support the local stars. And honestly, Michelle was probably forced into doing pop music at the time because the labels needed a response to the Britney Spears backlash that was occurring at the time and because Avril Lavigne was already spreading her Canadian born angst (and poor spelling) across the airwaves. So when Michelle got done cutting her two pop CDs (The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper, both of which were pretty good.) she probably couldn’t wait to get into country. Still, pianos, and more importantly, girls who play pianos are incredibly sexy and she’s definitely near the top of my list. 1. Alicia Keys 2. Vanessa Carlton 3. Michelle Branch 4. Elton John

4. Hold You In My Arms – Ray LaMontagne from “Trouble”
Alright, here is my first “I knew this guy before you did” moment of the day. A few years ago my mom bought me this CD along with Robert Earl Keen (who I mentioned last week) and Griffin House. I had heard of Keen, but hadn’t heard of the other two. I loaded them onto iTunes and promptly forgot about them. But they came up in the shuffle occasionally and I liked most of what I heard from both. Now, LaMontagne has released a new CD that is gathering huge critical acclaim and since he doesn’t do a fake, trying-to-be-sexy whisper like John Mayer, he will probably pass him and that one-hit wonder James Blount as the sexy, trendy singer du jour. And just in case Griffin House doesn’t come up in the shuffle anytime soon, definitely check him out too. He’s about to get pretty large as well. Hurry and you can still beat the crowd.

5. Faithful – Common from “Be”
Common is one of those hip-hop names that gets some play (like Jurassic 5) without completely selling out (like the Black-Eyed Peas). He made some appearances on Chappelle Show and got some credit because Kanye did most of his beats and each featured the other on their last albums. But Common stays pretty true to his Chiacago hip-hop roots and avoids the “dance floor beat” disease that afflicts many MCs (including Kanye) after a taste of success (you know, when the song sucks, but the beat is good so people will dance to it and thus sell records?). He still inflects a few of today’s politics and issues into his songs and yet still has some fun. His clear voice and delivery are what I like the most about Common, because you don’t miss his messages and he’s very, very smooth with his lyrics. He apparently had a CD coming out in September, so I’ll have to check and see if that actually happened and check that out. If you don’t have “Be,” it is so choice, I highly suggest you try one out.

We’ll keep it at 5 for today. Give me your thoughts in the comments. Adios.

Oh and keep an eye out for at least one more post this week. Not sure what I’ll be talking about but it’ll probably be about Matt Costa, Doves or something old that I liked in middle school (The Offspring maybe?)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday Morning Shuffle

Ok, so maybe it's Monday afternoon, sue me. I'm unemployed. You wouldn't be awake either.

In the interest of having some consistency on this page, i'm going to have certain days for certain types of posts, an editorial schedule if you will. That way, if it's Monday, you know that today is Monday Morning Shuffle day. Also, suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Monday Morning Shuffle will be a list of songs that came up while iTunes was shuffling this morning and a few sentences about each.

1. Posse In Effect - The Beastie Boys - Track 4 on Licensed to Ill
This is one of the most unremarkable songs on an otherwise fantastic CD. Having this song as track 4 is like having me bat 4th in the Yankees line up. After "Rhymin N Stealin," "The New Style" and "She's Crafty" it just drops off on track 4. But seriously, how good are the first 2 tracks of this CD? Damn good, that's how good.

2. Girl Anachronism - The Dresden Dolls
This was a random download and i don't really get it. I get how they're a band you could say you like and people would think you're interesting but i really can't see actually enjoying this song. Maybe the lyrics are genius but i'd never know because the song sounds like thumb tacks in my ear drums.

3. Killing Me Softly - The Fugees - Track 8 on The Score
An obvious song on a teriffic album. When Lauryn Hill rhymes on "How Many Mics" you just have to have respect and then she sings on Killing me Softly and you're like, "Is there anything this chick can't do?" and the answer to that is "No." Her voice is even better on "Fu-gee-la." If you haven't busted this CD out since high school, i highly recommend bringing it out for another listen. It's so, so good. Years later, Wyclef does a song called "Hips Don't Lie" and that was also amazing. And in case you were wondering, my hips don't lie either, at least not regularly.

4. Field Guide To The Night's Sky - Fivespeed - Track 2 on Trade In Your Halo
Fivespeed is a great local Phoenix band that just released their first major label release a few months back. This song is also on that CD which is called Morning Over Midnight and is super, super good. Definitely go buy it if you like local music. They're a little harder than some of the recent emo-core weirdness coming out of the Tempe/Mesa scene but i really like it. The lead singer's voice is almost impossible. I would have no voice in maybe like 8 seconds if i sang like that. But i love the grainy quality of it, it adds a ton of texture to the songs.

5. Clear The Area - Imogen Heap - Track 6 on Speak For Yourself
Alright, i don't watch the OC and i avoid Zach Braff movies at all costs so i was a little late jumping on the Imogen Heap bandwagon but i'm here now and i'm with it. I first listened to this CD late one night at work. I was completely alone in this gigantic office building in downtown Phoenix. It was pitch black outside, i had a ton more to do so i was just looking for something quiet that i could ignore. I got through the first few songs without paying much attention and the i got to the song "Hide and Seek" and just had to stop and listen. Then of course i went back to track 1 and listened harder and was pleasantly surprised. Not only are her lyrics good but her voice has a really unique tone and accent to it. My favorite thing about this CD was the variety of sounds she uses. There are flying guitar solos mixed in with a kind of electronica sound mixed in with blues and jazz beats. It's a very interesting and suprisingly easy-to-listen-to sound.

(Rob Gordon would definitely stop after 5 but i'm having fun so i'm going to do a few more. My blog. Fuck You. And yes, i'm going to use that reason a few thousand times in this space, in fact, i think i'm just going to go ahead and make up one of those cool internet abbreviations for it. MBFY.)

6. For Love - Robert Earl Keen - Track 1 on What I Really Mean
I am not a country fan. At all. In fact most of the shit they play on the radio makes me want to park my car in Tempe and leave the windows open so one of the vagrants will do me a favor and steal my car radio so i never, ever have to hear it again. And it's not the sound that kills me, or the twang or the line dancing. In fact, i love country bars and country people and even cowboy boots and hats. I just really hate mainstream country music that insists on me buying into their subject matter just to like the song. I just don't dig it at all. So when i heard this Robert Earl Keen CD i was pretty damn amazed. He's not a mainstream country star, and he's been doing it for a long time. He's in the Texas Country vein of Pat Green, etc. His lyrics are what used to be good about country music before Toby "Neo-Nazi" Keith and Honky Tonk Badonkadonk got ahold of it. Because the lyrics used to be about good things, they may have been sad or made you reflect on something, but at least they were thought out and well written. Country music today might as well have the Ying Yang Twins writing their lyrics ... Robert Earl Keen is more like the Johnny-Cash style of songwriting, in that he writes about less than perfect people and the less than dreamy aspects of our society. If you've never heard him, and even if you can't stand country, i highly suggest picking this one up.

8. Let's Get It On - Marvin Gaye
This song needs no explanation and is an unbelievably appropriate place to stop considering the tie-ins with the name of this very blog.

Hope you enjoyed the Monday Morning Shuffle.