Saturday, July 29, 2006

Song of the Week 7/28/06

Electric Six - "I Buy the Drugs"

Let me make a bold statement:

Electric Six are the best band of the 21st century.

(I told you it was bold.)

Let me rephrase that--Electric Six are the best band that has released albums only in this century. 2003's Fire is a certifiable classic and the follow-up Senor Smoke is almost as good. The band's third album, Switzerland, is due out September 12th. And the four tracks that have streamed on their My Space page have me thinking that we've got a potential album of the year candidate coming in just a few weeks.

"I Buy the Drugs" is the first single. I have been listening to it constantly since I (cough, cough) recorded it off My Space. This week the video made You Tube. So sit back and relax, the Electric Six are going to take you to school:

Singer Dick Valentine may be one of the Top 10 frontman ever in rock. Ever.

(Oh, and the address Valentine sings in the bridge--that's a real address. Google it and you'll find out.)

Steve's Indie Scrapbook 7/28/06

Thanks to all who came down for the second edition of the Scrapbook. Next time, I will reunite with all my old mates in TV Eye. Here's the playlist so you can check out what you might have missed.

The Replacments - "Bastards of Young"
Husker Du - "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely"
Soul Asylum - "Cartoon"
R.E.M. - "Can't Get There From Here"
Social Distortion - "Bad Luck"
Dinosaur Jr. - "The Wagon"
King Missile - "Detachable Penis"
Lemonheads - "Into Your Arms"
Camper Van Beethoven - "Pictures of Matchstick Men"
Guided By Voices - "Teenage FBI"
The Stone Roses - "She Bangs the Drums"
The Clash - "Police on My Back"
Dramarama - "Last Cigarette"
Dead Milkmen - "Bitchin' Camero"
The Smithereens - "Only a Memory"
The Rave-Ups - "Positively Lost Me"
Jesus & Mary Chain - "Just Like Honey"
The Jam - "Beat Surrender"
Franz Ferdinand - "Tell Her Tonight"
Interpol - "PDA"
The Psychedelic Furs - "Dumb Waiters"
Happy Mondays - "Step On"
Big Audio Dynamite - "Just Play Music"
Julian Cope - "Charlotte Anne"
The Fall - "Hit the North"
Guadalcanal Diary - "Always Saturday"
Joe Jackson - "You Can't Get What You Want"
Elvis Costello - "Kinder Murder"
Supergrass - "Alright"
Blur - "Chemical World"
Buffalo Tom - "Summer"
Too Much Joy - "Crush Story"
Scruffy the Cat - "My Baby She's Alright"
The Shins - "So Says I"
Elliott Smith - "L.A."
Nada Surf - "Blankest Year"
Husker Du - "Crystal"
Ramones - "Somebody Put Something in My Drink"
The Raconteurs - "Steady As She Goes"
Oasis - "Slide Away"
The Cult - "Rain"
Love and Rockets - "No New Tale to Tell"
The Cure - "Fascination Street"
Echo & the Bunnymen - "Seven Seas"
Midnight Oil - "Best of Both Worlds"
Electric Six - "Radio Ga Ga"
The Figgs - "Bad Luck Sammie"
Snow Patrol - "Eyes Open"
Wilco - "Monday"
Fountains of Wayne - "Red Dragon Tattoo"
The Go-Go's - "Turn to You"
Weezer - "The Good Life"
They Might Be Giants - "Ana NG"
Icicle Works - "Whisper To A Scream (Birds Fly)"
The Hives - "Main Offender"
Superchunk - "Slack Motherfucker"
The White Stripes - "I Think I Smell a Rat"
Reigning Sound - "Time Bomb High Shcool"
Black Flag - "Six Pack"
The Gravel Pit - "The Ballad of The Gravel Pit"
The Afghan Whigs - "Gentlemen"
The Gentlemen - "Sour Mash"
The Minutemen - "Political Song For Michael Jackson to Sing"
Mudhoney - "Touch Me I'm Sick"
New Pornographers - "Letter From an Occupant"
Romeo Void - "A Girl In Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)"
Juliana Hatfield - "Everybody Loves Me You But You"
Sugarcubes - "Deus"
Bob Mould - "See a Little Light"
The Pogues - "The Ghost of a Smile"
The Pixies - "Gigantic"
Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians - "Balloon Man"
Jeff Who - "Barfly"
Hoodoo Gurus - "What's My Scene"
Mojo Nixon - "Elvis Is Everywhere"
Cake - "I Will Survive"
The Pursuit of Happiness - "I'm An Adult Now"
Talking Heads - "Take Me to the River"
Folk Implosion - "Natural One"
Uncle Tupelo - "Gun"
XTC - "The Mayor of Simpleton"
Matthew Sweet - "Sick of Myself"
World Party - "Way Down Now"
The Strokes - "Reptilia"
Spoon -"Advance Cassette"
Joe Strummer - "Coma Girl"
The Long Winters - "Pushover"
Phantom Planet - "California"
The Posies - "Dream All Day"
Adrian Belew - "Men in Helicopters"
The Bears - "Fear Is Never Boring"
The English Beat - "Save It For Later"
The Specials - "Rudi, A Message to You"
Blondie - "The Tide Is High"
Madness - "It Must Be Love"
The B-52's - "Private Idaho"
Geggy Tah - "Whoever You Are"
The Flaming Lips - "Do You Realize"
The Jam - "Going Underground"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Song of the Week 7/21/06

Nada Surf - "Inside of Love"

So please forgive me for one more week of this musical self-pity party. Next week we'll get back to something lighter, like this or this. Anyways, it's not like I'm worried about turning off or depressing my readership, as 96% of the time I am my own readership. (How egotistical of me, eh?)

Throughout my adult life (for our purposes, let's say since the time I went off to college at age 17) I've always identified with those depressing, "My girl doesn't like me anymore/my girl left me/my love for that girl will always remain unrequited"-type songs. These songs run the gamut from hard rock (The Gentlemen's "When We Broke in Two") to wuss rock (any Coldplay song I ever liked) to somewhere in between (much of the Old 97's catalog). During the past two decades I've never had a song a) strike me as so perfect for my life years after I initially heard it and b) have the lyric pretty much describe the entire story of my romantic life exactly right in just a few verses. This week I discovered just such a song, recorded by three talented guys that live in my borough.

While doing laundry on Monday night I was listening to Nada Surf's great 2005 The Weight is a Gift album (it's well worth buying, trust me). I took a little walk up the hill past Green-Wood Cemetery rocking out to "Do It Again" and "Always Love" and then headed back down when the album hit "Blankest Year." Weight was done long before I got back to the laundromat, so I decided to stay in the Nada section of the iPod and started Let Go. As I got about 10 feet away, "Inside of Love" came on and the first two lines stopped me dead in my tracks. And right there, in front of the Clean Rite on McDonald Ave in Kensington, Brooklyn, the lyrics to "Inside of Love" acted like krazy glue on the bottom of my Chuck Taylors. I couldn't move, I could only listen and be stunned that I had never gotten, never grasped, never sensed, never knew that these five year old lyrics from singer-guitarist Matthew Caws encapsulated my life in the 21st century.

At that moment I couldn't think, felt like I couldn't breath and--perhaps most importantly--couldn't even remember which washer had my clothes. I had to sit down, it was just too much for what was left of my brain and tangled emotions. After a few moments, I gathered myself, put the clothes in the dryer and waited anxiously so I could get home and check the CD booklet just so I could confirm I wasn't insane. (Or better yet, more insane than I already am.)

So now dear reader, I present to you the lyrics that, well, I think were written about me, with my in depth analysis about them:

"Watching terrible T.V.
It kills all thought
Getting spacier than
An astronaut"

In the past three months I've had people (well, these people were mostly bartenders, but not all of them) ask me where I've been hiding on weekends. I've used a combination of spring allergies and being poor as my excuses (and yes, I have been battling both), but that's not the whole truth. Sometimes I would come home from work on a Friday, turn on the T.V., not even eat dinner and curl up on my futon and try to find the stupidest program or movie on to numb my brain so I wouldn't think about how bad I had messed things up, how I would never get certain chances back and how I was going to be eating meals alone until I was 80 (if I was fortunate to live that long). And when Caws sings "It kills all thought," he ain't kidding. I mean, I watched Hitch, Herbie: Fully Loaded and The Pacifier multiple times on these weekends at home. Only Mets games kept a sliver of thought going.

"Making out with people
I hardly know or like
I can't believe what I do
Late at night"

Um, yeah, got this one covered. By my rough estimate, since this century began I have made out with at least 15 (could be more) women after midnight at various bars in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and 75% of them are people I didn't really like, or didn't recall their name, or didn't even care if I ever got their name to try to remember. And yes, there have been too many things that I can't believe I did late at night (sometimes even early in the morning too). I believed that this was just a good way of making up for the lost time I had in college and working upstate. Now, I'm not so sure--I think I just wanted to be a whore for the hell of it. (And the great stories to tell the kids later on in life.)

Then the chorus rolls around:

"I wanna know what it's like
On the inside of love
I'm standing at the gates
I see the beauty above"

Yup. Always on the outside, looking at other folks relationships. Now this part isn't always bad. I have been lucky enough to be there when some great people I know have met and ended up falling deeply in love, and I like seeing people I like be happy. I guess that's the whole beauty line right there.

Onto the second verse:

"Only when we get to see
The aerial view
Will the patterns show
We'll know what to do"

Well, I'm doubtful I'd know what to do. I have done some amazing self-sabotage of potential relationships with that 800 pound monkey on my back. (His name is Mr. Commitment-Phobe, and he likes washing cats for some reason.) Someday I will write a book compiling my greatest hits in this regard, and then I will hit myself over the head repeatedly with this book until I beat some sense into my skull.

"I know the last page so well
I can't read the first
So I just don't start
It's getting worse."

Exactly. I know how this is going to end, how it's ALWAYS going to end, so its just easier making out with or sleeping with the girl whose name I have to get the next day from a bartending friend of mine.

(Not that that has ever happened.)

(Okay, not that it's happened more than once.)

After one more go around on the first chorus, we head to this chorus:

"I wanna know what it's like
On the inside of love
I can't find my way in
I try again and again"

Indeed, I haven't found my way, but that's not for actually trying once in a great while.

"I'm on the outside of love
Always under or above
I can't find my way in
I try again and again"

Yeah, you're right again Mr. Caws. And then a killer change comes in this chorus:

"I'm on the outside of love
Always under or above
Must be a different view
To be a me with a you"

Ah yes, that's what it boils down to--the ability to change. To take those parts of yourself that are emotionally unattractive (or make you look emotionally unstable) to others and either hide them (not the best course of action) or change them because you think that will help deepen a bond with someone. Of course that's a crock--change is only good if you're doing it for yourself, not because it might get you some nookie down the road. And as for someone who can be quite resistant to change, this is most likely my inherent fatal flaw.

"I wanna know what it's like
On the inside of love
I'm standing at the gates
I see the beauty above."

Why is the beauty always above? Does he like 6' 4" women or something?

And then, the kicker:

"I wanna know what it's like
On the inside of love
Of course I'll be alright
I just had a bad night.
I had a bad night."

I have said "I had a bad night" to myself the next day and to others multiple times after various hook-ups. And a bad night doesn't always mean those things "I can't believe what I do late at night"--it also means those times spent babbling about how this girl or that girl of my dreams just doesn't feel the same way. Oh yeah, everybody loves hearing those stories. They can't get enough of them!

So there you go--Steve Reynolds, ages 31 to 36, summed up in song in just four minutes and 58 seconds. Amazing. When I first listened to this album Monday night in front of the Clean-Rite, the play count in my Ipod was 2. After the past 6 days it's up to 26. This may be the first time a Song of the Week has actually helped my mental state and set me on a better path of life.

(Or perhaps send me down a path of stalking the singer of Nada Surf, who knows?)

I swear, next week I will be writing about something like Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time." Or perhaps Paper Lace. It's summer, and these Songs of the Week should be a little more fun.

Damn you brain and feelings!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Song of the Week 7/14/06

Oasis - "Slide Away"

One of the latest trends in the rock club scene here in hot ol' NYC has been bands covering other folks' albums. It's been the rage at Arlene's Grocery in the East Village for a couple of years now. Friday night the folks at Magnetic Field decided to give it a try for the special occasion of William's birthday. He's one of the owners, he's a man who loves his Pavement and loves dousing himself in beer while on stage for Live Band Karaoke. Yet he surprised me by asking local faves Tide to tackle Oasis's Definitely Maybe. It didn't seem like an album he would like--unlike myself.

Long-time RT20 readers will know of my love for the battling Gallagher brothers, so I need not rehash what I wrote in the 2004 list. I still love this album and was anticipating this gig for a couple of weeks by giving it a few spins in the Ipod. I also listened to Tide's music on their MySpace page during the week and thought that these guys could do a good job because they share some of that same Brit-pop sensibility. And when they kicked into "Rock n' Roll Star" I was not disappointed. It wasn't an Oasis tribute per se--it was a good band (with tons more stage presence than Oasis has ever had) playing a good set of songs. And to get that for free on a Friday night is no small matter nowadays.

"Slide Away" has always been the hidden gem on this album. I liked it when I first became a fan of the band, but my understanding of it has deepened over the years as I've attempted (and always failed) at one relationship after another. And after another successful failure recently (this time by my own withdrawal just before giving it one last shot because it likely would have hurt us both for a long time...sigh), I couldn't wait to sing along with these lines:

"Slide away - and give it all you've got
My today - fell in from the top
I dream of you - and all the things you say
I wonder where you are now?

Hold me down - all the world's asleep
I need you now - you've knocked me off my feet
I dream of you - we talk of growing old
But you said please don't !

Slide in baby - together we'll fly
I've tried praying - and I know just what you're saying to me

Now that you're mine
I'll find a way
Of chasing the sun
Let me be the one that shines with you
In the morning when you don't know what to do

Two of a kind
We'll find a way
To do what we've done
Let me be the one that shines with you
And we can slide away."

Oh yes, I was singing along loudly. Then something rather funny happened. Tide's guitarist Michael Boyd looked up from his ax, stared directly at me, and started nodding and mouthing the words as if he knew exactly why I was screaming along. I discovered afterwards that thankfully he didn't, because then I would have had an X-Files pyschic-type moment, and I certainly didn't want that. Afterwards Boyd and I chatted about the song, and we basically determined that it was fucking awesome. And when I left Magentic Field that night, I listened to it twice more, leaving people on the street wondering just exactly what words I was mouthing along to.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Song of the Week 7/7/06

Fastball - "The Way"

I made my first trip out to Shea Stadium last week and in celebration I put together a playlist of baseball and Mets-related songs (three versions of "Meet the Mets!") to entertain me as I hopped on the 7 train. Obviously I had to include Fastball just for their name. Even though I'm a bigger fan of "Better Than It Was" from All the Pain Money Can Buy, I decided to go with the hit single (get it, single?) "The Way." Eight years and a zillion overplays later, this track still sounds amazing to me. Each note, each instrument, each sample and each harmony is perfectly arranged. If anyone wants to teach a course on what made a great pop-rock song in the late 20th century, they need to look no further.

I ended up listening to my Shea-inspired playlist a few times over the rest of the week--and I think the volume my earbuds reached when "The Way" played took care of what was left of my eardrums. Oh well.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Song of the Week 6/30/06

Soul Asylum - "Stand Up and Be Strong"

Multiple times in the history of the Reynolds Top 20 (and this blog) I’ve written about my love for Soul Asylum. Monday the band added yet another chapter to the glorious history I’ve experienced with their music over the past 17 years.

The band was booked to play at a event at the Hard Rock Cafe for Free FM, the talk radio successor to the former Howard Stern station K-Rock. Everything about this event made me have flashback to my own radio days--and why I quit. Some of the highlights included: interns who didn't know what they were doing; a contest where male listeners had to sing Aerosmith songs with a dildo in their mouth; and a homemade bikini contest.


The topper of all of this was when the host of the shindig, "The Radio Chick," came out and basically asked her fans to not boo Soul Asylum when they went on. Yeah, that's how great this crowd was--and it didn't faze the band one bit. When Dave Pirner sang the line "All is well here in hell" (from The Silver Lining's "All Is Well") and then proceeded to point at the crowd in a very subtle way, I knew that they didn't give a fuck. They just wanted to play for themselves. Pirner and Dan Murphy rocked with wild abandon, while drummer Michael Bland hit the drums as if they had personally offended him. To perform a show this great with a crowd that could care less (and thinned as their hour-long set went on) was just a testament to the greatness of this band.

Then something funny happened when they broke into "Stand Up and Be Strong," the first single from The Silver Lining. I swear, people started listening. Something about this anthem (perhaps the first positive song Pirner has ever written) hooked a few folks standing around me. Their heads started bobbing, and I'm pretty sure I saw someone else pump their fist. And it's hard not to be hooked by this song. The studio version is one of the band's best songs post-Grave Dancer's Union, but live it takes on this huge life of its own. Just before the last chorus, the band stops so it's just Pirner and his guitar. He then sings "Stand up and be...stand up and beeeee," and then the rest of the band kicks back in, and it's perhaps one of the most life-affirming, fist-pumping, fuck you everyone that has screwed me over the years moments in music.


Seriously--it's that great of a moment. The band is going to be on Leno July 10th doing this song, and I suggest you watch it and prepare for the chills to run down your spine when they get to that part.