Friday, June 29, 2007

Cake - "Daria"

Cake - "Daria": "Sometimes, it's the simplest things that make me love a song. Here, the sometimes-braying John McCrea turns to lead a sweet chorus of "Daaaaariaaa!" over and over - and, that, plus the simple but energetic bass line underneath it, cast a strange spell over me."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Guided By Voices - "Huffman Prairie Flying Field"

Guided By Voices - "Huffman Prairie Flying Field": "This is the last Guided by Voices song on their last record and, in my book, it helped put them out a high note. Robert Pollard is at his wistful, melancholy best and the band is aces on their respective parts (including the awesome Kevin March on drums). As Pollard sings "for far too long..." over and over, the song seems to stretch into infinity - but when the second guitar lead kicks back in for the last minute of the song, it propels the song into an even more celestial infinity, if that makes any sense. It's as if the GbV magic was radiating out into the heavens, like a satellite signal heading out from Earth. GbV forever!"

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Faint - "Cars Pass In Cold Blood"

The Faint - "Cars Pass In Cold Blood": "For all their pretentiousness, I have to hand it to the Faint - they did glean some of the best of New Wave and cover it with a nice modern polish - and this song is an example of that (notwithstanding the noiserock finale). Maybe if they were less dark and just a few years later, they could have had had the success The Killers wound up getting - but anyone who sings about dark sex this much probably still wouldn't."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Aislers Set - "Army Street"

The Aislers Set - "Army Street": "I'm so happy that The Aislers Set is now in Rhapsody that I have to blog about them again! This time, it's one of my other favorite TAS songs, "Army Street". Here, the first-person narrator is so intimidated at a party she's attending that she drinks to (over-)compensate and then ultimately flees. It may sound emo, but it's painted so straight-forward that it's easy to identify with the social awkwardness that we've all felt at one point or another.
The part that really gets me every time isn't the lyrics but the guitar lead that starts at the 2:14 mark - it's a simple melody that sounds like chimes, but it just about breaks my heart every time I hear it. By the time Amy Linton's multi-track vocals kick back in, with the subtle tambourine backing, I'm completely shredded.
Now that I live in San Francisco, I know where Army Street is, so it means even more to me now than it did before."

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Aislers Set - "Friends Of The Heroes"

The Aislers Set - "Friends Of The Heroes": "I've been listening to the Aislers Set for years now, but I never cease to amaze at their musical alchemy - or, rather Amy Linton's, since most of the first record is played entirely by Amy alone. She was able to somehow capture 60s girl group harmonies and Phil Spector walls of sound that sound native to that time period, while still imbuing the songs with melodies and melancholy that surpass most of the music of that genre. How Amy was able to do this alone is still a mystery to me, but the whole album (Terrible Things Happen) is evidence of her magic, from start to finish."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Unwound - "Kantina/Were, Are And Was Or Is."

Unwound - "Kantina/Were, Are And Was Or Is.": "Oh, Unwound, how complicated you are. When my best friend put "Kantina" on a mixtape for me (during the Mixtape Era- look it up, kids), I discovered the raw power of Unwound and I wanted to play it over and over again. Unfortunately, on CD, Unwound put three freaking songs all in one track - "Valentine Card", "Kantina" and "Were, And And Was Or Is." - even though the first and second tracks are not connected at all. In other words, you don't get the usual CD (or digital) pleasure of just skipping to the song you want to hear. So, if you want to hear some amazing, pummeling rock sludge that shifts into echo-y dream rock at points and then slowly transitions into beautifully distorted but shimmering guitar interplay, press play on this track and skip to the 3:26 mark for "Kantina/Were, Are And Was Or Is."."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra - "Xanadu"

Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra - "Xanadu": "My friend Stephanie just alerted me to the fact that, somehow, Xanadu is somehow coming to Broadway as a musical. Clearly, even they know this is a debatable achievement, as their website adds the tag "Seriously." underneath the show's name.
Still, it compelled me to celebrate this magical moment in time, when two behemoths of the 70s (E.L.O. and O.N.J.) came together - on rollerskates no less - to bring us this neon-trimmed poptastic masterpiece.
"A place that nobody dared to go" indeed..."

(See my further thoughts on ONJ/Xanadu here.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Frank Black - "Headache"

Frank Black - "Headache": "The guitar-driven shuffle builds me up, but when the backing vocals on the chorus (towards the end of the song) kick into higher range, I get giddy. Frank seems to be getting more excited through the course of the song as well."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

David Bowie - "Day-In Day-Out (Spanish Version)"

David Bowie - "Day-In Day-Out (Spanish Version)": "This is a lesser Bowie song from what is pretty much his worst album ever (Never Let Me Down), but hearing him do "Day-In Day-Out" in Spanish is somehow pretty entertaining."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Pixies - "I've Been Waiting For You"

Pixies - "I've Been Waiting For You": "For reasons that are hard to articulate, this song has always struck me as a transcendent Kim Deal song. And by which I mean that I picture her kind of levitating down a supermarket aisle while singing this song - or, really, any other kind of chaotic environment that she seems to move through obliviously - because she is so focused on the message of the song's chorus: 'I've been waiting for you / and you've been coming for me / for such a long time now.' It's as if she has precognition of a meeting and that, in her certainty, nothing else matters or even registers. Or maybe I just love Kim Deal so much that I fancy her to be almost supernatural in her awesomeness, which at times seems very possible, that I'm giving her waaay to much credit in how I envision this song."

Friday, June 15, 2007

Rocket from the Crypt - "Over the Rail"

Rocket from the Crypt - "Over the Rail": "A track from the Circa: Now! sessions, but not released until the album was re-issued with bonus tracks, this is another fat slab of rock from the RFTC boys and is as solid as anything from their albums."

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ted Leo - "La Costa Brava"

Ted Leo - "La Costa Brava": "An interesting little number - Ted Leo provides his usual high-quality rock, but he mainly bases this song around a subtle, repeating guitar section. It's the kind of pleasant melody that you want to keep going, but he keeps things interesting by occasionally punctuating the song with some ace indie-rock chord riffings. And then, just when you think the song's going on for too long (around the five minute mark), Leo starts layering in different vocal parts, giving the song a completely new tonal dimension, even as the music stays constant."

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Twilight Sad - "Walking For Two Hours"

The Twilight Sad - "Walking For Two Hours": "This works my shoegaze jones. A wall of sound washes over this melancholy song, while the very Scottish vocals somewhat recall Idlewild. This song sounds best when turned up loud, as the drums pound especially hard, but you can also hear the subtle accordion parts wafting in and out of the background."

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Hong Kong - "Galaxies"

The Hong Kong - "Galaxies": "Bouncing fuzz pop, much in the vein of early Blondie-as-punk-girl-group and just as much fun."

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dengue Fever - "We Were Gonna"

Dengue Fever - "We Were Gonna": "This is swinging 60s rock, except made in the present day and featuring a female Cambodian singer who sings in Khmer. It may sound gimicky, but the music is tight and the unexpected vocals keep things sounding like more than well-done psychedelic pop retreads."

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Whigs - "Like A Vibration" (live)

The Whigs - "Like A Vibration" (live): "Check out this previously unreleased track from The Whigs' Rhapsody Originals session. The songs from their album (Give Em All A Big Fat Lip) are great, but this song - slated for their upcoming record - is amazing. It's pounding, rough and rocking with jolts of energy every time they sing "like a vibraaaatioooon". Like the tag says, it's Friday, rock it out."