Friday, July 29, 2005

Song of the Week 7/29/05

Aimee Mann - "I Should've Known"

I liked Aimee Mann for many years--until she wouldn't shut up about being screwed over by two different labels just as the Magnolia soundtrack was released in 1999. There's nothing like reading story after story about an artist whining about the record industry to piss me off to no end. Considering Mann had been a signed artist for almost 15 years at that point, it was amazing that she didn't realize that the record industry was always about screwing the artist over. Her attitude of "How dare this happen to me" just pissed me off. And it made me pretty much never listen to her work again.

Tuesday morning I woke up humming a song, and realized that it was Mann's "I Should've Known." In 1993 I couldn't get enough of that song and Mann's solo debut Whatever. Jon Brion's everything and the kitchen sink production paired up with Mann's insightful and slightly sarcastic lyrics made for a great combo to my ears. I remember my friend Jocelyn (who worked for Imago, Mann's label at the time) being shocked when I told her I loved the album, and I also kind of had the hots for Mann.

Now I'm not sure why "I Should've Known" popped into my head. I have softened my stance on Mann since she doesn't talk about getting screwed over any more. Her latest album The Forgotten Arm is the first she's released since the Magnolia soundtrack that I acutally like, so maybe my brain was digging out some gems from the past. I ended up listening to the track twice on the subway to get my fix. And then, perhaps,'s Vintage Channel tapped into my brain as well. I started listening to this stream on Thursday, and one of the first songs I heard was "I Should've Known." God bless the power of the internet.

One last thought: the chorus of "I Should've Known" features one of my favorite writing tricks in a song. Mann starts it by singing, "I should've known," then pauses, and then Mann and Brion's multitracked voices go "dot dot dot," then Mann continues "It was coming down to this." Where else could one get a musical ellipses?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Song of the Week 7/22/05

Joni Mitchell -- "California"

I must admit, I don't think I'd heard this track from Mitchell's classic 1971 album Blue in at least 15 years--and then I heard it twice in 18 hours. The first time was while I was hanging out with a couple of special folks (well, one of them was a dog, but Scout seems very human-like) and having one of my best Brooklyn nights of the year. The second time came as I was listening to WFUV stuck in traffic on the West Side Highway in Manhattan. For those few minutes, the traffic didn't seem so bad at all. Thanks Joni, for being part of a great week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Trouser Press Issue 98 7/16/05

Thanks to all that came by to see myself and Ira Robbins spin tunes for Trouser Press Issue 98 at Magnetic Field in Brooklyn on Saturday night. We hope to do another night again soon. Here's our playlist:

The Who - “Summertime Blues”
Bad Manners - “Lip Up Fatty”
Big Country - “Fields of Fire”
The Specials - “Gangsters”
The Cars - “Bye Bye Love”
Nice - “America”
Killing Joke - “80s”
Dead Boys - “Sonic Reducer”
Sonic Youth - “Eric’s Trip”
Fast - “Hawaii”
Dictators - “Stay With Me”
Sparks - “Girl From Germany”
Buzzcocks - “Love You More”
The Who - “Heatwave”
Rubinoos - “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”
Bonzo Dog Band - “Mickey’s Son and Daughter”

The Jam - “Going Underground”
The Clash - “London’s Burning”
Plastic Bertrand - “Ca Plane Pour Moi”
Devo - “Uncontrollable Urge”
Ramones - “53rd & 3rd”
Damned - “Neat Neat Neat”
PIL - “Public Image”
Undertones - “Teenage Kicks”
Soft Boys - “Rock and Roll Toilet”
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - “The Beat”
The Go-Gos - “We Got the Beat”
Blondie - “Kung Fu Girls”
Greg Kihn Band - “The Breakup Song”
Joe Jackson - “Happy Loving Couples”
Graham Parker and the Rumour - “Hold Back the Night”
Joboxers - “Just Got Lucky”
Cheap Trick - “Dream Police”
Dead Kennedys - “Police Truck”
The Replacements - “Something to Du”
Young Fresh Fellows - “Rock and Roll Pest Control”

Neu - “Fur Immer”
Spaceman 3 - “Take Me to the Other Side”
Hawkwind - “Masters of the Universe”
David Bowie - “Rebel Rebel”
Time Zone - “World Destruction”
Amon Duul II - “Pigman”
Sex Pistols - “God Save the Queen Symphony”
Sweet - “Six Teens”
Eurythmics - “English Summer”
The Residents - “Satisfaction”
Skids - “Sweet Suburbia”
Members - “Sound of the Suburbs”
Tenpole Tudor - “Throwing the Baby Out With the Bathwater”
Pink Fairies - “I Wish I Was a Girl”
John Otway - “Beware of the Flowers (Cause They're Gonna Get You Yeah)”
Madness - “One Step Beyond”
New Order - “Love Vigilantes”
Holly and the Italians - “Youth Coup”
U2 - “Bad (Live)”
Bryan Ferry - “The 'In' Crowd”

Utopia - “One World”
Dave Edmunds - “I Knew the Bride”
T Rex - “20th Century Boy”
Rolling Stones - “Hand of Fate”
Alice Cooper - “Be My Lover”
KISS - “Do You Love Me”
Iggy Pop - “I’m Bored”
Modern Lovers - “Pablo Picasso”
Blue Oyster Cult - “Godzilla”
The Who - “The Seeker”
ELO - “Mr. Blue Sky”
Fleetwood Mac - “Think About Me”
Peter Gabriel - “I Don’t Remember”
King Crimson - “Neal and Jack and Me”
The Pretenders - “Stop Your Sobbing”
The Kinks - “Living on a Thin Line”
Men at Work - “Be Good Johnny”
Patti Smith - “Frederick”
Hoodoo Gurus - “My Girl”
Madness - “It Must Be Love”
Pete Townshend - “Let My Love Open the Door"
Talking Heads - “Love> Building on Fire”
XTC - “Love on a Farmboy’s Wages”
Graham Parker and the Rumour - “Love Gets You Twisted”
Marshall Crenshaw - “Someday, Someway”

Monday, July 18, 2005

Song of the Week 7/15/05

Madness - "It Must Be Love"

One thing I love about having I-Tunes is that it allows you to search through your entire library by keyword. I have created some great mixes for the bar just by stringing together songs that have "Dog," "World" and all types of fruits in the song titles. I also made a mix where each song had "Love" in the title. One of those tunes was "It Must Be Love," and I had forgotten how great that track was. While it was hit in the U-K in 1982, it was the follow-up to "Our House" here in the States in 1983 and was one of those gems that the Top 40 station I listened to only played at night. Why, I have no idea.

After listening to this "Love" mix over and over on the Ipod, I decided I would play "It Must Be Love" during Saturday night's Trouser Press night at Magnetic Field. It sounded great at 2:30 in the A.M., and definitely captured my happy mood. But what clinched it as the Song of the Week was seeing the video come at at 5:45 on VH1 Classic. I apologize to my downstairs neighbors for cranking it up that loud, but it's not often that I'm giddy, ya know?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Song of the Week 7/8/05

Grateful Dead - "Hell in a Bucket"

Sometimes the old hippie in me comes out, what can I say?

Perhaps this should be called Video of the Week, since I somehow caught this clip on VH1 Classic three times over the week. I had totally forgotten how horrible this video was. I mean, Bob Weir is dressed in a yellow tank top with a purple suit jacket. And he rides down a street in the back of a Cadilliac with a duck:

I mean, what were they thinking? Nonethless, "Hell in a Bucket" has always been one of my favorite Dead songs. Whenever they opened a show with this galloping rocker, I knew that we were probably in for a good night. (Sometimes it didn't even matter if there were songs playing at a show for a good night!) Even today, if this song comes up on the classic rock station here in town (or on VH1 Classic) I will turn it up more than enough to annoy my co-workers.

I had a feeling that a Dead song would make it this week, since on the 5th of July I listened to a new live Dead disc called Truckin' Up to Buffalo, July 4th 1989. That was the first Dead show I ever saw (after a couple years of only being able to score tickets to Jerry Garcia Band shows). My biggest memory of the whole night was that it rained so hard for so long, my hat shrunk before the show was over. Damn cotton. And now I at least have more of a memory than that ill-fitting fishing hat .

And here's another shot I love from the video, where Weir sings the line "I can't think of a place that's more perfect/Or a person as perfect as you" and points right at Jerry Garcia:

That's a moment that is just perfect.

Friday, July 08, 2005

RT20 Special Report: The Best of 2005 (So Far)

It’s hard to believe that half of 2005 has slipped out of the hourglass already. There’s been a lot of crazy shit this year, and perhaps nothing is crazier than the amount of good music that’s landed on my desk. Some years by the halfway point, I’m struggling to find even 10 albums that are contenders for the year end Top 20. In 2005, I have 30 albums to consider. (And I have advances of a few more due out in the next two months that I know will battle for a spot.) So since lots of people have done their own lists at the halfway point, I thought I’d join the in crowd and put it up (in alphabetical order) on ye old site. And for those wondering what singles have been spinning in the radio in my brain (and have Itunes) check out my Top 20 singles playlist here. Enjoy, and happy shopping!

Aqueduct - I Sold Gold (Barsuk)
I admit it—hearing these guys on The O.C. made me dig out this album from the pile in my desk. Please accept my apologies for being more cliché than usual. Check out: “Growing Up With GNR,” “Hardcore Days and Softcore Nights”

Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock and Roll (Fierce Panda)
Gloriously stupid, yet somehow wickedly smart at the same time British rock that is highly unoriginal, buy highly entertaining. Check out: “Emily Kane,” “Good Weekend”

Beck - Guero (Interscope)
The latest from Mr. Hansen almost seems like a career-spanning greatest hits disc that touches upon all of the styles of music he’s dabbled in since Odelay. Check out: “Girl,” “E-Pro”

Brendan Benson - The Alternative to Love (V2)
Likely best known for his friendship with The White StripesJack White, Benson is just as strong a songwriter as his Detroit compadre. He makes catchy songs about love--well, a lack of love--that stick in your brain for days. Check out: “Cold Hands (Warm Heart),” “The Pledge”

Bloc Party - Silent Alarm (Vice/Atlantic)
Yet another UK band that somehow lived up to its buzz. I think these guys have a few 80s albums in their collection. Check out: “Helicopter,” “Banquet”

Brazilian Girls - Brazilian Girls (Verve Forecast)
With only one girl and no one from Brazil (as far as I can tell) this band name is pretty much a lie. However, this quartet does make fun, danceable music that I think could only happen in New York. Check out: “Pussy,” “Lazy Lover”

Bright Eyes - I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning (Saddle Creek)
I was way late to the Conor Oberst party, but I glad I caught on. One beautiful folk-rock song after another, with great vocal help from Emmylou Harris. Check out: “Road to Joy,” “Land Locked Blues”

Bright Eyes - Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (Saddle Creek)
The electronic side of Mr. Oberst isn’t as powerful (or personal, if one looks at the lyrics) as I’m Wide Awake, but it’s rare nowadays for an artist to put out two high quality albums in one year, let alone one. Check out: “Gold Mine Gutted,” “Easy/Lucky/Free”

The Decemberists - Picaresque (Kill Rock Stars)
Yet another band that just popped up on my radar in 2005. Frontman Colin Meloy pairs up well-crafted melodies with lyrics that tell a complex story in each and every song. The album that never fails to make me feel somewhat happy. Check out: “We Both Go Down Together,” “16 Military Wives”

Mike Doughty - Haughty Melodic (ATO)
The ex-Soul Coughing singer always had a great way with words, and this disc is no exception. Check out: “Looking at the World Through the Bottom of a Well,” “Busting Up a Starbucks”

Doves - Some Cities (Capitol)
This British trio is three for three in compelling albums. Check out: “Black and White Town,” “Snowden”

Kathleen Edwards - Back to Me (Zoe/Rounder)
Canada’s answer to Lucinda Williams delivers an even better set of songs with her second album. Check out: “In State,” ”Back to Me”

eels - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations (Vagrant)
Mastermind e has served up a two disc masterpiece of songs about death, life…and stoplights? Check out: “Losing Streak,” “Hey Man (Now You’re Really Living)”

Eisley - Room Noises (Reprise)
The singing Dupree sisters have the best harmony blend I’ve heard in years. And they write pretty songs to boot. Check out: "I Wasn't Prepard," "Marvelous Things"

Electric Six - Senor Smoke (Warner Music UK)
Detroit’s best band returns with another dose of rock songs that make you laugh and pump you fist at the same time. (Alas, it’s still available only as an import.) Check out: “Dance Epidemic,” “Jimmy Carter”

Garbage - Bleed Like Me (Geffen)
Welcome back Shirley Manson and company, we’ve missed you. Check out: “Why Do You Love Me,” “Bad Boyfriend”

The Gentlemen - Brass City Band (TGRC)
A long-time RT20 favorite returns with their most diverse album to date. This disc single handedly kicked off my Stones rediscovery phase earlier this year, it’s that good. Check out: “Flame for Hire,” “Three-Minute Marriage Proposal”

Hot Hot Heat - Elevator (Sire)
Here’s another band not afraid to plumb material from the ’80s. And being from Canada is always a plus in my book. Check out: “Running Out of Time,” “You Owe Me an IOU”

Ivy - In the Clear (Netwerk)
Cool, sophisticated, female-fronted pop never sounded so good as it does in this Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) side project. Check out: “Thinking About You,” “Tess Don’t Tell”

Kings of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak (RCA)
Are they southern rock crossed with The Strokes? Some say they are. I say I enjoy the album, but like the Strokes, have no idea what the singer is saying in any song. Check out: “The Bucket,” “Taper Jean Girl”

Ben Lee - Asleep Is the New Awake (New West)
Perhaps more singer-songwriters need to date and then break up with Claire Danes to improve their songwriting. Check out: “We’re All in This Together,” “Catch My Disease”

Louis XIV - The Best Little Secrets Are Kept (Atlantic)
The best tribute to--or ripoff of?--T. Rex I’ve heard in years. Check out: “Finding Out True Love Is Blind,” “A Letter to Dominique”

Of Montreal - The Sunlandic Twins (Polyvinyl Records)
Here’s one more group that was under my radar until this year. One quirky pop song after another that will take me another six months to digest and write about. Check out: “The Party’s Crashing Us,” “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and other Games”

Graham Parker & The Figgs - Songs of No Consequence (Bloodshot Records)
Finally, after three great tours together, these guys team up in the studio with incredible results. Check out: “Vanity Press,” “Dislocated Life”

Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies to Paralyze (Interscope)
No Dave Grohl on drums this time, but still damn powerful. Check out: “Tangled Up in Plaid,” “Little Sister”

Josh Rouse - Nashville (Rykodisc)
Yes, the world does need another great divorce album. And it’s this one. Check out: “It’s the Nighttime,” “Carolina”

Spoon - Gimme Fiction (Merge)
Finally, an album that lives up to all the critical buzz heard months before its release. Check out: “Sister Jack,” “My Mathematical Mind”

System of a Down - Mezmerize (American/Columbia)
Perhaps the hard rock album of the year, and maybe this century. Check out: “B.Y.O.B.,” “Cigaro”

Martha Wainwright - Martha Wainwright (Zoe/Rounder)
Hey, Rufus’s little sister can write some good depressing songs too! Check out: “BMFA,” “These Flowers”

The White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan (Third Man/V2)
It doesn’t rock as hard as Elephant, and it doesn’t need to. Marimba never sounded so heavy. Check out: “My Doorbell,” “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)”

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Song of the Week 7/1/05

Gorillaz - "Feed Good Inc."

This one was easy--I saw this video every single night on MTV Hits when I got home after work. I mean, it was the first video every time I turned that channel on.


(I would write more, but I'm fried from Live 8. Perhaps I will expand this entry in the future.)