Monday, January 28, 2008

Song of the Week 1/25/08

Nada Surf - "Whose Authority"

Damn, this song is so fucking catchy. I've had an advance of Lucky since early December but put off really exploring into it until the calendar hit '08. It took a few listens, but it's really growing on me. And I credit "Whose Authority." I always thought the song was kind of odd because there are two lengthy verses before the chorus kicks in. Then one day while I was walking to a gig the chorus just hit me. I had to start pumping my fist and soundlessly mouth these words:

"On whose authority/I have none over me/on whose authority/there's none that I can see/on whose authority/I have none over me/on whose authority/nothing speaks to me/on whose authority/I have none over me"

It's hard to describe just how anthemic it is, so let's have YouTube and a guy from The Adventures of Pete and Pete explain it all:

There's a point at 1:57 in where he just throws his hands in the air as the chorus is going...and it's absolutely perfect. This song brings me that type of a moment of exhilaration. I can't explain why, I can only revel in it. Next Friday (2/8) they're playing at Bowery Ballroom and I am so excited to see them. Fist pumping and singing along for everyone!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Song of the Week 1/18/08

Joe Jackson - "Too Tough"

This week I couldn't escape this first single from Rain, Jackson's first album in four years. WFUV, WXPN, the World Cafe--they all seemed to know exactly when I would be listening and would play this track. Not that I'm complaining--it's a great song, reminiscent of Jackson's more mellow work on albums such as Night and Day and Body and Soul. And just like those discs he's gone guitarless once again, playing in a piano trio with his original rhythm section of bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton. "Too Tough" features some gorgeous piano playing, especially when Jackson hits the chorus. And oh my gosh, it's a somewhat bitter chorus. Who would have thought I would enjoy a line like this?

"And if I try hard enough/to do or die/when we push and shove/I know that I will be too tough/ Too tough to fall in love/With you"

After transcribing that line I realized that "Too Tough" might be my favorite Joe Jackson song in at least 17 years...and that song ("Stranger Than Fiction") was released when I graduated college. Sigh.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Song of the Week 1/11/08

Kate Nash - "Pumpkin Soup"

Kate Nash's Made of Bricks is the best album released in 2008. Of course, that's not saying much since we're only two weeks into the new year. However, I still predict that this infectious collection of songs about break-ups and relationships going all sorts of wrong will end up on many best of lists 11 months from now. Nash returned to the U.S. last week to play a few shows to promote the release of Made of Bricks, which is already a smash hit in the U.K. I'm not sure if the American audiences will fully embrace the songs from this talented 19 year-old since she sounds exceedingly British when she sings and incorporates lots of British slang in her lyrics. I figure since I liked this album immediately when I heard it last fall that its got no chance here, but I could be wrong.

"Pumpkin Soup" isn't the lead single here in the States (it was the third single in the U.K.) but I can't get the chorus "I just want your kiss boy" out of my head. And the video's kind of fun too:

The first single "Foundations" is a winner too, as is its video:

Monday, January 07, 2008

Song of the Week 1/4/08

Paul McCartney and Wings - "Arrow Through Me"

Ah, its a long and winding road to explain this one.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

It was almost a year ago that blogger extraordinaire Matthew Perpetua wrote about this track on the always top notch Fluxblog. I downloaded the MP3 and was instantly transported back in time--actually, two times.

When "Arrow Through Me" and Back to the Egg were released in the spring of 1979, I was just becoming aware that Paul McCartney had done other music after The Beatles. In the late winter I had bought the 45 for the non-LP track “Goodnight Tonight” with my allowance. The song sounded pretty funky and disco-ish, which was right up my “I Love the Nightlife” and Village People (I had Go West and Macho Man on 8-track!) digging brain. The station always on in my house was WGY-AM. Even though it was on the AM dial WGY was still mostly a Top 40 station, playing much of the softer hit tunes of the day. The Fender Rhodes sound of “Arrow Through Me” fit snugly with station’s musical direction and the Walt Fritz’s Music Magazine. The show started at 3:00 p.m. every weekday, just in time for me to get home from school, and features a weekly countdown and daily musical history nuggets. (Hmm, wonder if that had an impact on me.) Alas, I never bought the “Arrow Through Me” single--I think my comic book interest was also starting to gear up around that time, so I’m sure my tiny amount of money went to Spider-man or Batman. I do remember being fascinated by the Back to the Egg cover, which seemed to be on display at the Zayre store over the border in Great Barrington, Mass. I’m positive it had to be the same copy that sat there for four months.

My other flashback came from my 2002 stint as a roadie for The Figgs. As Mike Gent drove the van down to Philadelphia so we could pick up Pete Donnelly he asked me to go through his CD case and pick out some stuff. The first one disc I came upon was Back to the Egg, which I poked fun at by saying “I didn’t know you wanted to sleep when you drove.” He dismissed my insult and said it was a much underrated album. So I put it into the van’s CD player, and I’ll be damned if Mike wasn’t right. I had forgotten about the album’s other single “Getting Closer,” which was a great little rocker, and how much I liked “Arrow Through Me.” I made a mental note to get Back to the Egg somewhere on the tour, but then I promptly forgot during our first stop at Waffle House 11 hours later.

So last January I listened to the “Arrow Through Me” MP3, decided I needed Back to the Egg on CD and went to Amazon. Alas, I discovered (and you’ll discover for yourself if you click here) Back to the Egg has been out of print for a while in the U.S. So once again I forgot about the song and the entire album until Apple made a big deal about Macca’s catalog going upon iTunes. The first day the albums were up I put Back to the Egg in my shopping cart, secure in my knowledge that I would soon enjoy the last album by Wings.

Yet I never pulled the trigger on downloading it. I always felt like I had something else more pressing to place on my iPod. Back to the Egg got buried in the load of crap I stored in that shopping cart. To buy everything I stashed in that queue would have cost 363 bucks as of last Thursday. Then I was given a 50 dollar iTunes gift card by one of my work superiors as a token of appreciation for the number of times I helped him out in 2007. It was by far the best Christmas/holiday gift I got. And the first thing I downloaded was Back to the Egg. I listened to that album twice on Thursday and then again while doing laundry on Saturday and on the way into work today.

Six years later, Mike Gent is still right--it is an underrated work, and “Arrow Through Me” is a great little single that’s much better than most of McCartney and Wings’ 70s hits.

AND NOW FOR SOME POST-CHRISTMAS BONE-I: Check out the video for “Arrow Through Me.” It’s not as slick as the song, that’s for certain.

When I was searching for that video, the second clip that came up was New York’s own long-running songwriter’s tribute Loser’s Lounge covering the song last month. I scrolled down to what else they had tackled and found my friend Jed Parish (of his own amazing solo career and the just as amazing Gravel Pit) just tearing up “Maybe I’m Amazed.” Listen to the crowd go nuts when he hits some high notes:

Best. Cover. Ever.

The 18th Annual is Up

Look over to the right and down and click on 2007. Or just click here.