Sunday, August 29, 2010

Song of the Week 8/27/10

Cee-Lo Green - "Fuck You"

So I started this post on Monday morning, but new stuff kept being written about this marvelous Cee-Lo track that I felt like I had to keep adding to it. I happen to think the song is genius because it's damn catchy and yet there's no way the original song could be the out-and-out hit it deserves to be. (Who knows what will happen with the edited version titled "Forget You.") In other words, I won't get sick of this song as I did with the radio overplay that ruined "Crazy" or "Hey Ya," and for that I am thankful.

Let's break down the rest of the Internets, bullet-point style:

Lastly, the "proper" video is funny too.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Song of the Week 8/20/10

Huey Lewis and the News - "If This is It"

This past weekend I took a trip back in time. Well, not literally, but it certainly felt like it at many moments. I went to Misquamicut State Beach in Rhode Island for the first time in 20 years. As a kid I spent many, many days at this beautiful beach with my aunt. We visited that area of New England virtually every summer of the 1980s. (Save 1983, where I lived outside San Diego and was able to let my Duran Duran and new wave fandom grow by leaps and bounds listening to 91X.) We went one last time in 1990 when I lived at home while I was interning at PYX 106 in Albany, but at that point I was more interested in spending my time indoors and soaking up as much about the industry I had (foolishly, some would say) decided would be my career. And what 20 year-old wants to spend time with their relatives?

As the past 20 years have gone by, I became more of a guy that avoided the outside. There's a great Lemonheads song from 1996 called "Outdoor Type" that sums up my state of mind perfectly. But this year that facade got cracked. I was very fortunate to date a lovely woman named Allison who embraced much of what I had pushed out of my life since I became a city dweller -- she loved the outdoors, loved traveling to new places and especially loved the beach. We were in New Hampshire in May and made a pit stop at her favorite beach. Standing there, with my feet in the chilly sand, I thought to myself, "Why have I avoided this for so long? This is pretty awesome, even if its not the best temperature to have bare feet." At that moment I knew I needed to get back to the beach. A month later I booked a hotel just over the Rhode Island border in Connecticut (which happened to be near Foxwoods casino, cough cough) and asked my aunt to go with me.

As the time for the trip approached, I pulled together a playlist of songs from 1984 to 1986. Those are the years that come to mind to the most when I think of Misquamicut. And of course that's the era when Huey Lewis and the News were at their peak. Their music is intertwined with those memories. We saw Back to the Future in nearby Westerly in 1985 and I, of course, chuckled at Lewis's cameo. I went camping in the area in the late summer of 1986 with my older friend David and on the way back we stopped at a Strawberries so I could by a cassette of Fore!, which had just been released that week. And "If This Is It" was released as a single in July of 1984, and I remember hearing it on radios up and down the beach when we went for a second visit of the summer in late August. It was my favorite song on Sports before it became their fourth Top 10 hit in a row, so being able to hear it more often made me very happy. And when I sat on the beach this past weekend, many of those teenage memories came flowing back, with a soundtrack supplied by a song with a video about going to the beach. How meta. (And what a bummer I can't embed it.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Song of the Week 8/13/10

Wilco - "Magazine Called Sunset"

(Above: The view of Wilco from the hill behind at MASS Moca on a beautiful August night.)

I spent last weekend at the three day Solid Sound Festival at Mass Moca in North Adams, Massachusetts. Curated by Wilco, the fest had just enough great music (The Baseball Project were worth the four hour drive alone) and weird art (seriously, there was a room just filled with red knitted rope) to make it a great summertime diversion. (And it was especially needed as work was starting to make me feel a little crisp around the edges. )

Wilco's headline set on Saturday night was good, but not as great as the show I to went at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey back in April. Yet it's hard to be disappointed with any gig where they play one of my Top 5 Wilco tunes ("Nothingsevergonnastandinmyway(again)") and dip into their 1995 debut A.M. ("I Must Be High"). The highlight had to be seeing them do the More Like the Moon EP track "Magazine Called Sunset." I never thought I'd get the chance to see it live, so be able to enjoy it on a gorgeous night in the Berkshires was, well, solid.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Song of the Week 8/6/10

Los Lobos - "Angel Dance"

I went to see Los Lobos last Tuesday at Bowery Ballroom to do a "record release" show for their latest disc Tin Can Trust. It was obvious that the Band From East L.A. hadn't been doing too many of these new songs in their sets this summer, as both David Hildago and Cesar Rosas needed lyric stands so they wouldn't mess up when singing. (As someone who has used a music stand at gigs for close to five years, I totally understood their pain.) The lack of lyrical knowledge with their new material didn't take away from what was a fun and extremely stress-reducing couple of hours. Seven songs into their set Hildago made a comment about Robert Plant giving him a call saying he wanted to cover one of their songs. I had to chuckle when Hildago said, "Wow, it turned out really good."

The song Plant covered is "Angel Dance" from the Lobos' 1990 album The Neighborhood. I've given that album the short end of the stick over the years because it didn't seem as strong as 1987's By the Light of the Moon and then paled in hindsight compared to 1992's masterpiece Kiko. I've gained new respect over the years for The Neighborhood because I've seen the band play many of the songs over the years (the Bowery show opened with "Emily" from said album and included "Georgia Slop" and the title track) and WFUV a.m. jock Claudia Marshall always seems to play one of the songs from it once or twice a month.

I think "Angel Dance" has grown on me over the years specifically because a) it's turned into such a powerhouse live (it was tremendous at Bowery) and b) lyrically it captures that time gone by, the innocence of kids running around in the summer having fun and lamenting when they have to go to bed that I'm more readily to understand (or long for, I suppose) as a soon-to-be 41 year-old man than I would have as a soon-to-be 21 year-old kid that couldn't wait to hit the bars.

"Angel Dance" is the first single from Plant's upcoming Band of Joy album, which makes me very happy because it'll mean a few more bucks in the pockets of Hildago and his co-writer Louie Perez. And even though Plant's take on "Angel Dance" couldn't touch the original in my ears, the legendary Led Zeppelin singer (and his producer Buddy Miller) do a fine version. The video, shot in June in Chicago, totally captures the mental picture Hildago and Perez painted in my head. And Plant was kind enough to have Hildago and Perez in the clip. But why do they have to drive Plant around? Hmmm.

And it looks like Plant and the new Band of Joy have already improved on the recorded version:

Here's Los Lobos from The Neighborhood tour performing "Angel Dance" on Austin City Limits. Check out the great fretwork from David Hildago:

BONUS: Here's Plant joining Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys on stage in Chicago in June to cover "Treat her Right."

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Song of the Week 7/30/10

The Drifters - "Under the Boardwalk"

I heard this song four times last week -- and only two of those times were on CBS-FM. That's kind of weird. But, it makes for an easy choice for SOTW.

I loved this song as a kid. But considering it was a Top 40 hit five years before I was born, I wonder how the heck I knew it so well as a 10 year old.