Friday, November 28, 2008

Song of the Week 11/28/08

Kanye West - "Paranoid"

Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak is one of the most intriguing albums of the year. Its sound is reminiscent of the early 80s rap tracks that I loved growing up. That doesn't make it some sort of retro album. (The autotune all over West's "sung" vocals places it squarely in the early 21st century.) Its just that most of the backing tracks come off like cold and clinical electro music, as if Newcleus ("Jam On It") had returned as West's producer.

My favorite song so far is "Paranoid." I had planned on writing much more about this track, then I read the always interesting blogger Matthew Perpetua's piece on Fluxblog about the same song. And he summed it up much better than I ever could. So I'd suggesting checking out his entry.

One last thing: 808s & Heartbreak is not for everyone. I can't imagine to many folks wanting to hear a poorly sung rap equivalent of Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. However, I encourage you to give it a chance. If you "get" this album, it will likely blow your mind and become one of your favorite discs of the year. I know that's the case with yours truly.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Song of the Week 11/21/08

Estelle featuring Kanye West - “American Boy”

For the first time in say, oh, eight years, I feel proud to be American. And I credit it all to U.K. singer Estelle and this song. Okay, maybe she doesn’t deserve all the credit. It did take until after our Presidential election for this bouncy and oh so hummable song to click in my mind. I heard it all throughout the summer but thought it was the last single from West’s Graduation, an album that didn’t really hold up for me after repeated listens. Then the first Saturday after the election I heard “American Boy” cranked in the NHL store in midtown Manhattan. Standing there next to a batch of Sidney Crosby jerseys the lines “I just met this 5 foot 7 guy who's just my type/Like the way he speak here, his confidence is peaking” and “Take me to your hood/I neva been to Brooklyn and I'd like to see what's good” hooked me. She’s a very attractive singer (who has an English accent, which always slays me) proclaiming she likes guys from the good ol’ U S of A. How could you not like this song? I finally broke down and downloaded it Saturday afternoon. If we’re lucky, perhaps Estelle will lead a cultural revolution around the globe that makes us American boys seem just slightly less evil than we look right now to the rest of the planet.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Song of the Week 11/14/08

Tom Petty - "I Won't Back Down"

I wanted to have an appropriate song to open up Groinstrong-a-thong last night. I think these lyrics prove why it was the perfect choice.

"Well I won't back down, no I won't back down
You could stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won't back down

Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down

(I won’t back down) Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
(I won’t back down) Hey I will stand my ground
And I won't back down"

We all love you Jonah. (And apparently we all love raffles too.)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Song of the Week 11/7/08

The Replacements - "Election Day"

Last week I finally got the reissues of the Mats final four albums (Tim, Pleased to Meet Me, Don't Tell a Soul and All Shook Down). This new Pleased to Meet Me disc includes "Election Day," a track first issued on the 1997 compilation All for Nothing/Nothing for All. For some reason I listened to it a lot Monday and Tuesday. I wonder why...

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Song of the Week 10/31/08

Paul Westerberg - "Love Untold" (Live)

I need to send props out to my friend Mike for sending me the link to the Westerberg boot this track comes from. It's a concert at Fantasy Studios in San Francisco broadcast on KFOG on September 12th, 1996. And this version of "Love Untold," originally on 1996's Eventually, crackles with an energy that makes me think Westerberg was going through his own dose of unrequited love at the time. Westerberg even changes the lyrics to a couple of lines. "They were gonna meet on a crummy little street/It never came to be I'm told" becomes "I'm too old" and "We were gonna meet on a crummy little street" becomes "We were gonna meet but it never came to be," with Westerberg yelling "too bad" right after the line is done.

Just another tremendous performance in a career filled with them. (With additional props to the smoking band that includes guitarist Tommy Keene and drummer Michael Bland. That was a great group.) Download it now. In fact, download the whole damn show while you can.

BONUS: Here's video of the first time I ever saw Westerberg perform the song, at Irving Plaza in New York in July of 1996.