Sunday, May 27, 2007

Song of the Week 5/28/07

Arctic Monkeys - "You Know I'm No Good"

Amy Winehouse + Arctic Monkeys = a surprisingly great cover. Those folks at BBC Radio 1 know what they're doing--without them I don't think anyone would have covered Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."

Okay, maybe not.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Song of the Week 5/18/07

Ace Frehley - "New York Groove"

I enjoy turning on "young" folks to some cheesy 70s rock every once in a while. Such was the case early Thursday morning as my friend Brian and some other folks took a slow crawling F back to Brooklyn after a rain-delayed Mets-Cubs game at Shea. One of Brian's friends mentioned he was going to play "New York Groove" at some party, and Brian commented that he never heard the song. I was surprised, since the Mets have played "New York Groove" during parts of games for many years (and Brian is only five years younger than me). So I took out the iPod, scrolled to the "A" section and turned over my headphones. It was funny watching Brian (who's a drummer) start bobbing his head as the slinky, late 70s beat took over during the chorus. It was even funnier when he kept singing the chorus during various parts of our seemingly never-ending subway ride. I'm sure the people sharing our car enjoyed it.

As if the Mets wanted to back up my point, during today's Subway Series game they played it again. Now I have no doubt--"New York Groove" sounds really great coming through big stadium speakers.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Song of the Week 5/11/07

I've been listening to the new Wilco album for almost three months now (friendships with publicists do pay off once in a while) and I'd have to rate it among their finest--and definitely the best since Summerteeth. Jeff Tweedy has written his most direct and honest songs ever, and the rest of the sextet have created sympathetic arrangements that make those simple words and phrases shine. Alas, it seems most folks (a.k.a, the ones who bent over backwards for the experimental-leaning Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born) don't seem to understand the open and tenderly optimistic vibe this album strives for. Oh well, its their loss. "What Light" is the lead track of the album, and it's opening lines seem to sum up its mission statement:

"If you feel like singing a song
And you want other people to sing along
Just sing what you feel
Don't let anyone say it's wrong."

I really hope that critics -- but more importantly -- the high and mighty music bloggers and indie geek fans come around to what is a stunning gem of an album.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Song of the Week 5/4/07

The Who - "How Many Friends"

Ever have a song just pummel you upon first listen? Where the lyrics make you sit still in one place and block out everything going on around you? And when its over you get that feeling deep in the pit of your stomach that things aren't ever going to be the same?

If so, then don't listen to this Song of the Week, cause you're not going to feel any chipper.

I had never heard The Who By Numbers all the way through until this week (I'd heard "Squeeze Box" a zillion times in my classic crock days), and after getting through "How Many Friends" I felt like a total fool for letting this album be the gap in my Who education. I'd go into an in depth discussion about songwriter Pete Townshend's mindstate in 1975 when he wrote this track, but my boss (and in-house Who expert) Ira Robbins nailed it all when we had this email conversation the day I first listened to "How Many Friends:"

SR: I'm listening to Who by Numbers for the first time ever right now, and I gotta say that this album is pretty damn good (especially "How Many Friends"). What were/are your thoughts on it?

IR: The first time I heard it was over the store system at what was the Sam Goody's across the street. I could hear it clearly, and knowing Pete's mind as well as I did then (which is to say more than now, if not very well at all), I found it absolutely heartbreaking. I recall "How Many Friends" brought a tear to my eye. I absolutely love that album (except for "Squeeze Box"). My favorite of theirs after the early ones

SR: Yeah, I always thought "Squeeze Box" was the weakest Who song that was in regular rotation on the rock station in Albany. "Slip Kid" was the only other song I knew on it. Geez, that "How Many Friends" is just a stunner when you read the lyrics on the page.

IR: Absolutely. I think he was close to suicidal.

I can only imagine. Take a peek and judge for yourself:

"I'm feelin' so good right now
There's a handsome boy tells me how I changed his past
He buys me a brandy
But could it be he's really just after my ass?

He likes the clothes I wear
He says he likes a man who's dressed in season
But no-one else ever stares, he's being so kind
What's the reason?

How many friends have I really got?
You can count 'em on one hand
How many friends have I really got?
How many friends have I really got?
That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am?

Suddenly it's the silver screen
And a face so beautiful that I have to cry out
Everybody hears me
But I look like a fool now
With a cry and I shy out

She knows all of my friends
But it's nice to find a woman who's keen on living
Now I think I've reached the end
I wonder in the dead of night - how do I rate?

How many friends have I really got?
How many friends have I really got?
How many friends have I really got?
That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am?

It's all like a dream you know when you're still up early in the morning
And you all sit together to watch the sun come through

But things don't look so good when you could use a bit of warning
Then you know that no one will ever speak the truth
About you

How many friends have I really got?
How many friends have I really got?
How many friends have I really got?
That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am?

When I first signed a contract
It was more than a handshake then
I know it still is
But there's a plain fact
We talk so much shit behind each other's backs I get the willies

People know nothing about their own soft gut
So how come they can sum us up
Without suffering all the hype we've known
How come they bum us up

How many friends have I really got?
Well you can count 'em on one hand
How many friends have I really got?
How many friends have I really got?
That love me, that want me, that'll take me as I am?"

Geez, I am SO happy I didn't hear this song last May. I'd be in a looney bin right now, or perhaps worse.

Derby Day 2007: Steve's Indie Scrapbook 5/5/07


Next Derby Day, please someone remind me not to have Maker's Mark at 4 a.m. Thank you.

Here's the songs you might have heard after the guys were done rocking last night:

The Replacements - “Can’t Hardly Wait”
Soul Asylum - “Sometime to Return”
The Hold Steady - “Chips Ahoy”
Sonic Youth - “Bull in the Heather”
Guided By Voices - “I Am a Tree”
The Figgs - “Bad Luck Sammie”
Nada Surf - “Do It Again”
Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians - “Flesh Number One”
The Lemonheads - “The Great Big No”
The Pixies - “Ed Is Dead”
Blur - “There’s No Other Way”
Jellyfish - “The King is Half-Undressed”
Let’s Active - “Every Dog Has Its Day”
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - “Blue Chair”
Echo & the Bunnymen - “People Are Strange”
Hoodoo Gurus - “What’s My Scene”
Teenage Fanclub - “What You Do to Me”
Sugar - “If I Can’t Change Your Mind”
Matthew Sweet - “Sick of Myself”
L7 - “Pretend We’re Dead”
Modest Mouse - “Dashboard”
Morrissey - “Suedehead”
Scruffy the Cat - “You Dirty Rat”
Buffalo Tom - “Treehouse”
The Strokes - “Under Control”
Ryan Adams - “Hallelujah”
The Pogues - “London Girl”
Talking Heads - “(Nothing But) Flowers”
Cake - “I Will Survive”
The Waterboys - “Fisherman’s Blues”
Guided By Voices - “Bulldog Skin”
World Party - “Ship of Fools”
Wilco - “What Light”
XTC - “That’s Really Super Supergirl”
Violent Femmes - “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me”
Lackthereof - “What a Fool Believes”
Fountains of Wayne - “It Must Be Summer”
Ben Folds Five - “Where’s Summer B.?”

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Song of the Week 4/27/07

I never expected to see a great rock show in Washington, D.C. when I booked my bi-annual trip to see the Mets play the Nationals back in February. Yet that's exactly what I got last night at the Black Cat from Graham Parker and The Latest Clowns. Parker was supporting his fine new album Don't Tell Columbus with a star-studded lineup of Boston musicians assembled by The Figgs' Mike Gent...who played drums on Don't Tell Columbus and was filling the same slot on the tour.
(I must admit, I found it odd watching Gent behind the kit the entire time, having to be the steady beatmaster instead of the passionate lead guitarist when The Figgs have backed Parker over the years.)
Don't Tell Columbus doesn't rock as much as Songs of No Consequence, the album Parker did with the Figgs two years ago. It's more of a mid-tempo singer-songwriter affair, with a healthy dose of keyboards. With the new album in mind, Gent pulled together a fine roster of folks to bring Parker's tunes to life on this tour--Rudds guitarist Brett Rosenberg, The Gentlemen and Gravel Pit bassist extraordinaire Ed Valauskas and keyboardist Scott Janovitz. Besides the hand-picked musicians, I'm sure Gent had a little bit to do with the set that featured songs Parker hasn't played with a band in at least a decade. The keyboards allowed Parker to dip into the first album in his catalog I ever heard, 1985's Steady Nerves. "Wake Up (Next to You)" did indeed sound great (with a soaring guitar solo from Rosenberg aptly filling in for the recorded version's sax solo), but "Break Them Down" was easily the best song of the night. This tale about Christian missionaries imposing their will upon Central and South America (which seems like a thinly veiled jab at Reagan's mid-80s policy in the same areas) had slipped through my memory banks for many years until it came up one day while I was listening to the WOXY Vintage Channel. Sunday night the Latest Clowns flat out rocked this track, making me wish that the next release in Parker's official bootleg will be something from this oh too short tour.