Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Co-Songs of the Week 6/22/07

I waited until after I saw Wilco at Hammerstein Ballroom Monday night to choose the Song of the Week. Of course, I listened to sooooo much Wilco the past five days that I couldn't just pick one. Damn you for being so good Wilco!

"Side With the Seeds" from Sky Blue Sky rocked at the Hammerstein. Nels Cline's guitar playing was smoking (check out the show here) and Jeff Tweedy really belted the lyrics out of the park--even if I have no idea what they mean.

Alas, they didn't play Sky Blue Sky's leadoff track, "Either Way." (Those lucky enough to go to Warsaw Tuesday night go that song and "Outtasite (Outta Mind)"--lucky bastards!) On Thursday I got some kind of upsetting news that was only cured by three hours of very late night drinking and great conversation with a friend of mine that this year has helped me rediscovered the Jamesons gene in my Irish DNA. Friday morning I woke up with a pretty clear idea that things were going to be alright. And when I heard these lyrics as I walked by P.S. 179 on my block, I knew Tweedy was telling me I was right:
"Maybe the sun will shine today
The clouds will blow away
Maybe I won't feel so afraid
I will try to understand either way"
Crap, now I have to wait until ACL to see them again.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Song of the Week 6/15/07

Queen - "Tie Your Mother Down"

A three weeks ago at Magnetic Field one of our singers broke the bottom of the mic stand. When they were done rocking through The Kinks, I climbed on stage and started joking about how I looked like Freddy Mercury holding this stand that could, well, no longer stand. I had no idea the guys had been fooling around with "Tie Your Mother Down" at their last rehearsal. Paul broke into the riff, I started yelling "oooh yeah", Paul and Troy kicked it in and I spent a verse making up lyrics about our broken mic stand until we hit the chorus.

It was exhilarating. Holy crap, it felt so good doing that song.

So the guys learned it and we opened with it Thursday night.

Oh my, I screamed so loud I didn't need the mic.


I mean, we didn't rock it like this:

But still, I felt like I was on stage at Wembley.


UPDATE 6/20: In the comments below Mr. Boyd mentioned Queen (well, 1/2 of) and Foo Fighters (well, 1/2 of) performing it at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in 2001. I was at the ceremonies for work, and I do remember this performance really rocking. Dave Grohl's and Taylor Hawkins' enthusiasm for the song and Brian May and Roger Taylor just shines throughout. And May does some blistering guitar work too:

My favorite part comes at 2:47--they've just hit the end of the last chorus, and Grohl throws his head back and just listens to those distinctive May and Taylor backing vocals. Talk about "kid in a candy store" face.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Song of the Week 6/8/07

Paul McCartney - "Dance Tonight"

Yup, Paul McCartney. A man, pardon me, a BEATLE (caps required) who hasn't released a single song in the past decade that I've given more than one cursory listen to. A man who has just released his finest album in 25 years (I'm still a sucker for Tug of War). Memory Almost Full (and this is not a full review, just a first impression) sounds like McCartney wanted to make an album made for the iPod that sampled his entire solo career. I've listened to it through regular speakers and it just doesn't have the same impact. But my oh my, its an incredibly addictive pop gem when I'm riding on the F train with the headphones cranked. Some songs remind me of the 1980 quirky entirely solo work McCartney II, others of the great Wings single "Junior's Farm" and at other moments XTC and (I swear) Guided by Voices. This week I couldn't stop listening to "Dance Tonight." Its one of the three weakest songs on the album, yet the mandolin hook kept bringing me back.

If I had to nominate the most surprising Song of the Week--perhaps ever--this one would be it.
(And hey, Natalie Portman looks cute in that video.)

My junior year roommate Hank has it as his SOTW as well--he sent me this email the other day.

"I had to pick up the CD when it was released for two reasons - 1) I was driving to Philly for the day. 2) Its a new Paul McCartney cd.

As soon as I played the first track Cindy [Hank's wife] adopted 'Dance Tonight' as the song for the baby. As apparently babies an hear music in the womb. She constantly plays the song over and over when driving, when she wakes up and when just in the house. Apparently the baby has responded well to that song (as well as the third track, 'Sunshine').

I know it is a simple song, which to your point, has a great hook.

I also dig 'Mr. Bellamy' from the album as it is pretty artsy."

I do believe this is the first time a baby and I have ever agreed on anything.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Co-Songs of the Week 6/1/07

Bright Eyes - "The First Day of My Life" and "Road to Joy"

The best decision I've made so far in 2007: getting tickets to two shows during Bright Eyes seven night stand at Town Hall.

The worst decision I've made so far in 2007: not getting tickets to more shows during Bright Eyes seven night stand at Town Hall.

The shows I saw Monday and Wednesday nights with Moria the concert pal will easily go down as two of the best this year. Like the entire run, both nights had great special guests (Monday = Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis; Wednesday = Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard), great live versions of songs from the fine new album Cassadega ("Soul Singer in a Session Band" kicks ass), a great mix of covers and older tunes and frontman Conor Oberst in a really great mood. Props go to the Bowery Presents folks who convinced Oberst to do this run and try to make it something special every night.

Monday's highlight was a reworked version of "The First Day of My Life" from I'm Wide Awake Its Morning. It could be called a "rocking" version, but that doesn't quite capture the rollicking groove that stellar drummer Janet Weiss injected into the song. It made a happy tune about love even happier. Look for yourself:

I smiled at the end of the song in spite of myself. As I searched for a clip of this performance, I stumbled across the very heartwarming video as well:

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Its sooooo cute I might poop my pants.

Anyway, Wednesday closed with a shake the rafters and rip the seats out of this joint take on "Road to Joy." When Oberst yelled, "Let's fuck it boys, make some noise," the 17 people on stage (yeah, that's right, seventeen) made a cacophony of sound that was still ringing in my ears and my brain the next day. And while I didn't find a version from that night, the version that closed out the entire run Friday night was just as apocalyptic:

I was so pumped after "Road to Joy" I forced Moria to high five me. (Sorry about that MM, but thanks yet again for turning me onto Bright Eyes.) When we got on the F train to head to Brooklyn, I couldn't help but think I had witnessed an artist taking a leap up to a higher level and that fans will be talking about these Town Hall shows in the same way Bruce Springsteen fans reminisce about those legendary shows at the Bottom Line in 1975.