Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Song of the Week 9/19/08

Old 97's - "Designs on You"

I love when a playlist I made over 2 years ago brings up a song I had totally forgotten about. "Designs on You" is a great track buried towards the end of Satellite Rides. The narrator is a guy who just can't help but say the truth to a woman (Annette) who's about to get hitched. As I was on the F train at 7:30 a.m. Sunday it totally hit the spot--and probably kept me awake too damn long once I got home.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Song of the Week 9/12/08

The Zombies - "Care of Cell 44"

It's been a Zombies' couple of weeks here at the ol' Reynolds office in Brooklyn. Moria the concert pal and I went to benefit concert headlined by Nada Surf a couple of weeks ago. Sam Champion was also on the bill, and they did a cover of the Odessey and Oracle track "This Will be Our Year." I hadn't heard the original--and considering the concert pal was seriously considering it as her future wedding song--so I needed to borrow a copy of the album from someone at the office posthaste. And damn, Odessey and Oracle definitely lives up to all the critical kudos its gotten. What a pop masterpiece. And I may steal Moria's wedding song idea when I get hitched. (Sorry MM.)

Thursday night I stopped by Sample to see two of my good friends, Heather and Vanessa, have a beer or two, and give each of them a copy of a certain singer's new album. As I sat down a song came on that sounded familiar. It was Susanna Hoffs singing, yet it wasn't The Bangles. By the second time Vanessa had played the song (and jumped around while it was playing) I had to know what it was. She explained it was Susanna Hoffs and Matthew Sweet covering The Zombies "Care of Cell 44." That's when it all made sense. I owned that Sweet and Hoffs album Under the Covers Vol. 1, and I had just been listening to that Zombies track Thursday morning on the F train.

Mystery solved--Song of the Week found.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Song of the Week 9/5/08

Okkervil River - "Lost Coastlines"

It's not often I'll use the Song of the Week to plug an album, but the The Stand Ins by Okkervil River is worth making an exception. It's the third brilliant disc in a row (after 2005's Black Sheep Boy and 2007's The Stage Names) from frontman Will Sheff and company. It's a continuation of the themes Sheff explored on The Stage Names -- namely the life of a performer, either as a movie star or a rock star. (Or, as one caustic track on The Stand Ins explores, a "Singer Songwriter.") Sheff is by far the best lyricist in rock today (might have been that schooling at Macalester in St. Paul, I'm not sure). Each song is a compelling, funny, sometimes heartbreaking, yet always tautly constructed short story. "Lost Coastlines" is ostensibly about a crew departing on a ship, yet it's a great metaphor for a band leaving on what looks to be a hard slog of a tour. ("Leaving behind/All the faces that I might replace if I tried/on that long ride/Looking deep inside/but I don't want to look so deep inside yet.") And recently departed keyboardist-vocalist Jonathan Meiburg makes a great counterpoint to Sheff's distinctive off-kilt delivery with a smooth baritone that takes two verses. A fantastic lead off song from one of the (if not the) best albums of the year. I suggest you pick it up now. I can't wait to see them in their hometown of Austin in three weeks.

BONUS: Okkervil River got their friends to "stand in" on The Stand Ins by covering all the album's songs. They filmed each friend's performance and posted them on their YouTube channel. And damn, it's a totally great idea. This take on "Lost Coastlines" find The New Pornographers' A.C. Newman taking Sheff's vocal while Sheff himself slides right into Meiburg's part:

Monday, September 01, 2008

Song of the Week 8/29/08

Neil Young - "The Loner"

It would be more factually correct to make the artist for this Song of the Week The Figgs, but no one has posted a YouTube clip of their mind-blowing version of this song they broke out at the Knitting Factory Friday night. I didn't expect it at all, which made it even more incredible. It had to be one of the Top 5 moments I've ever experienced at a Figgs show. (And there have been over 80 shows now.) Mike Gent, Pete Donnelly and Pete Hayes just rocked the hell out of it, while keyboardist Scott Janovitz absolutely nailed the keyboard parts that Young discarded after he recorded the song for his 1969 self-titled solo debut.

I don't know what else to write. It was one of those rock moments that can probably never be duplicated. I don't even remember the two songs they played afterwards.

BONUS 1: Here is Neil tackling the song earlier this year in Amsterdam.

BONUS 2: My friend Eric went with me to the show, and he knew how mind-blowing it was for me to see my favorite ever band do a song by my favorite ever solo artist. Below he chimes in with his own review from the Holland Tunnel.