Rather than listing my favorite songs of the year (since last August), I though I'd do a post on my tentative favorite song of all time.
The New Pornographers - the Bleeding Heart Show
This song marks nothing less than a stroke of genius from the New Pornographers. The whole song is the story of an epiphony. At the beginning there's the base drum, with its occasional entrance into the guitar and piano parts; in the second portion, there's the addition of a more regular drum beat and Neko Case's voice, though then, only so often; in the third portion, A.C. Newman and Case's voices join together as two parts of the whole that is only reached at the end. Truly, this song is magical, transformative. I have no other words.
I promise, once things get semi-normal, I'll get back to high quality posting.
Bright Eyes - Another Travelin' Song
I'm not exactly a morning person. Either my alarm goes off and I bounce out of bed or (most days) my alarm goes off, I hit the snooze button, 10 minutes later it goes off again and I hit the snooze button (again). This typically continues for an hour, sometimes two.
When I do get up in the morning, I want to hear nice, soothing music that doesn't put me back to sleep, while also subconsciously convincing me that I should be in a good mood - or at least that my day will be interesting.
Here's my I've-just-woken-up-I-can't-deal-with-reality-yet morning mix:
Simon & Garfunkel - Feelin' Groovy
I heart this song, a LOT. Also Art Garfunkel's hair.
Pernice Brothers - There Goes the Sun
this one's for those saturdays when you wake up, look at the clock, and realize it's 2 p.m.
Islands - Swans (Life after death)
once you get past the intro, it's so chirpy, it's irresistable
the Magic Numbers - Morning's Eleven
(re-post, I couldn't help myself) In my book, only scottish people are allowed to sing like southerners.
Big Star - Watch the Sunrise (Belle & Sebastian remix)
better than the original, duh
Super Furry Animals - Hello Sunshine
you can float to this song. seriously.
Belle and Sebastian - Sleep the Clock Around
Belle and Sebastian. No further comment.
Elliott Smith - Coming Up Roses
Q: WTF who wants to listen to Elliott Smith when they get up in the morning?!?!
A: ME! And no, it doesn't just make me want to get back into a ball in my bed, thank you.
Blind Melon - No Rain
90s! "ooh ooh oooooh"
When I heard first Belle & Sebastian, I wasn’t immediately intrigued: “Night walk” put me to sleep, and the only songs I really liked off the album were “Storytelling” and “Big John Shaft.” Nowadays, it’s “Big John Shaft” I think about. It was Stuart Murdoch’s voice that caught me – he doesn’t really enunciate, but every word he says is crisp. Neither can he be pegged as a tenor or a bass on first listen. Likewise, when he’s singing, he never sounds like he’s really making an effort at it. Really, none of those things would have mattered for “Big John Shaft,” except the entire feeling of this song is unhappy apathy. The simplistic guitar part, the chimes, & the piano all hang around in the background, making occasional slight intrusions into your conscious listening to the song. When the trumpet arrives in the break, it’s a ray of sunshine into a song about mediocracy. I was caught by the song, if not by the album, and started digging into older albums.
Belle & Sebastian – Big John Shaft
Buy Storytelling on eMusic
I decided to go from the beginning, with Tigermilk. I don’t have as much to say about specific songs – the entire album caught me. What is amazing about the album is how how many great songs were there from the beginning: “She’s Losing It,” “The State I Am In,” “I Don’t Love Anyone,” “You’re Just A Baby,” “Mary Jo,” “Electronic Renaissance,” and my personal favorite, “My Wandering Days Are Over” – basically, the entire album.
But it was the feeling of being lost that truly captured me. In “The State I Am In,” there’s the line, “I gave myself to God / There was a pregnant pause before he said, ‘OK’,” and the chorus, “I gave myself to sin again / and then to providence / and now, I’ve been there and back again / the state that I am in.” “She’s Losing It” is about people who have been displaced from society, “Mary Jo” is about a lonely girl. Even “You’re Just A Baby” contains some cynicism masked behind the obvious cuteness of the song with lines like “Kiss me on the cheek before you know what’s cool.”
The focus on children is unique – we think about adults, young and old, as lost in their existential unhappiness, but Stuart Murdoch through Belle and Sebastian takes that idea and applies it to children in the form of cute pop, creating a genre all his own. In a 2003 interview, Stuart rejected the notion of “Twee pop,” saying that the band just wanted to make pretty music. Oh, how they succeeded.
I saved the best for last: “My Wandering Days Are Over.” The essential story, beyond the spooky witch in the sexy dress, the disenchanted pony, and the circus boy, is about someone who has decided to settle down and finds himself more lost than ever.
(I'm sorry these links were screwed up earlier)
Belle and Sebastian – The State I Am In
Belle and Sebastian – My Wandering Days Are Over
Buy Tigermilk on eMusic
I moved on to If You’re Feeling Sinister, which became my official favorite album (I was 14, what can you expect?) until the release of Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Every track on If You’re Feeling Sinister was at least as good as the best track from Tigermilk, and better. With If You’re Feeling Sinister, I had my first experience of wanting to hear every single track of an album all the time – no skipping tracks I didn’t like as much.
As is probably apparent from my last.fm rankings, the first track on If You’re Feeling Sinister, “The Stars of Track and Field,” is still my favorite Belle & Sebastian track. I can’t quite put my finger on why. Potentially, there’s lines like “Could I write a piece about you now that you’ve made it?” and then, in the next verse, “Could I write a requiem for you when you’re dead?” There’s the way it builds. I don’t know. I love it anyway.
I’m beginning to get lazy with writing this post, so I’ll go through songs in If You’re Feeling Sinister this way – by stating my favorite features of each song (that isn’t “the Stars of Track and Field”).
SEEING OTHER PEOPLE – the piano part, the way Stuart pronounces doin’ in the chorus that makes it obvious that he doesn’t believe what he’s saying either
ME AND THE MAJOR – the harmonica!, the ending: “falling falling falling falling….”
LIKE DYLAN IN THE MOVIES – the melody between Stuart and Stevie in the chorus and in the last verse, the line “Pure easy listening, settle down” (don’t ask me why)
THE FOX IN THE SNOW – THE ENTIRE FREAKING SONG, the fact that Stevie can’t hit the note on “Starvin’” and “Kills You,” etc. I heart the guitar part too.
GET ME AWAY FROM HERE, I'M DYING – the beginning, “Oh, get my away from here, I’m dying / play me a song to set me free / nobody writes them like they used to so it may as well be me,” the line “think of it this way / you could either be successful or be us” Actually, this one’s another case of THE ENTIRE SONG
IF YOU'RE FEELING SINISTER – the chorus: “If you’re feeling sinister / go off and see a minister / he’ll try in vain to take away the pain of being a hopeless unbeliever,” the sounds of kids playing throughout the song.
MAYFLY – the sadness of the song: both people involved in the song love people who just aren’t there, the way the song almost ends (too soon) after “You know it’s a crying shame”
THE BOY DONE ME WRONG AGAIN – Stevie singing “the boy done wrong again,” the line “All I wanted was to sing the saddest song / And if you would sing along I will be happy now”
Judy and the Dream of Horses – the way the trumpet comes in after the second verse and the song suddenly makes me want to dance. Also (I can’t help it), “You will fall asleep with ants in your pants”
Belle and Sebastian - The Stars of Track and Field
Belle and Sebastian - Me and the Major (one seriously underappreciated track)
Buy If You're Feeling Sinister on eMusic
After listening to If You’re Feeling Sinister until I knew it by heart, I looked for another album to move onto and found….not a lot. I tried The Boy With the Arab Strap – didn’t really like it. Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant? - Not that either. I listened to EP’s: Jonathan David, I’m Waking Up To Us, This is Just A Modern Rock Song, (I do like 3…6…9… Seconds of Light, but it’s just one EP, and that’s not as new for as long as an LP), Legal Man….and they couldn’t hold my attention. I moved on. I found other albums…an LP called The Photo Album by “Death Cab For Cutie?” (who names their band that, really?), Oh, Inverted World by The Shins, Sha Sha by Ben Kweller, Castaways and Cutouts by the Decemberists, the Creek Drank the Cradle by Iron and Wine, *cough* The Places *cough* you have come to fear *cough* the most by *cough* Dashboard *cough* Confessional *cough* (my throat’s cleared now), Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, and more…….
Like going to visit an old friend, occasionally I would put in a Belle & Sebastian album, usually when I’d had a rough day. And Stuart would sing to me.
Well, you know the rest of the story (also, I'm getting a little tired of writing). In 2003 Dear Catastrophe Waitress made critics (and me) happy. And now there’s 2006’s The Life Pursuit - my feelings for it are mixed.
And then there’s old Belle and Sebastian……….
Sept 1 - Bel Auburn @ Beachland Ballroom
Sept 13 - French Kicks & Sound Team @ Grog Shop
Sept 23 - Be Your Own Pet & the Black Lips @ Beachland Ballroom
Sept 24 - Kasabian @ Grog Shop
Sept 25 - Calexico @ Beachland Ballroom
Sept 27 - Cursive w/ the Thermals @ the House of Blues
Oct 1 - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah w/ Architecture in Helsinki @ the House of Blues
Oct 4 - Ladytron & CSS @ Beachland Ballroom
Oct 5 - Sunset Rubdown @ Beachland Ballroom
Oct 5 - Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins @ House of Blues
Oct 11 - Carbon Leaf @ Beachland Ballroom
Oct 15 - Islands @ Grog Shop
Oct 25 - Xiu Xiu @ Beachland Ballroom
Oct 27 - Hellogoodbye, Reggie & the full effect... @ House of Blues
Nov 3 - Electric 6 @ Grog Shop
Nov 5 - The Decemberists @ Beachland Ballroom
Nov 9 - The Decemberists @ Agora Theater
Nov 11 - Hot Chip @ Grog Shop
Sept 8 - Washington Social Club @ Iota
Sept 13 - Band of Horses @ Black Cat
Sept 13 - Zero 7 w/ Jose Gonzalez
Sept 14 - Rogue Wave @ Black Cat
Sept 23 - Electric 6 @ Black Cat
Sept 25 - Architecture in Helsinki @ Black Cat
Sept 25 - Ladytron @ 9:30 Club
Sept 26 - Yo La Tengo @ 9:30 Club
Sept 28 - The Mountain Goats @ Black Cat
Oct 3 - French Kicks, Little Ones @ Black Cat
Oct 3 - Regina Specter @ 9:30 Club (early show)
Oct 3 - Cursive w/ the Thermals @ the 9:30 club (late show)
Oct 6 & 7 - Jamie Cullum w/ Josh Ritter (I've mentioned this one before...) @ 9:30 club
Oct 10 - Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins @ 9:30 club
Oct 17 - Art Brut, Spinto Band @ Black Cat
Oct 18 - Ben Kweller @ 9:30 club
Oct 25 - Tilly & the Wall @ Black Cat
Oct 26 - the National @ Black Cat
Oct 28 - the Wrens @ Black Cat
Oct 31 - Tapes N' Tapes @ Black Cat
Nov 11 - Broken Social Scene @ 9:30 Club
Nov 18 - Amy Millan (of Stars)
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' music feels as though it could have been pulled out of someone's record collection in the 70s as in a music store today, timeless in its combination of blues and old school rock & roll. There are no duds or exact sound-alike's in "Nothing But The Water," the band's sophomore album, released in May. Fans of Neil Young, Hootie & the Blowfish, Neko Case, & Wilco may all find it worth digging in their pockets to buy the album.
Oh, but wait, I'm not done yet. Interestingly enough, GP&N seems to have hired an "indie" promo company (I would know, they contacted me), which does a lot of the same jobs a label would normally do. It's an interesting phenomenon - so-called indie promoters work on developing blog hype, which gives the band cred in the hipster realms, which is entirely paradoxical because the whole system violates the DIY (do it yourself) ethic of indie. Or does it? I would appreciate your thoughts on this....
Back to the band, who I do like very much...
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - Toothbrush and my table
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - Ragged Company
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals' Website / MySpace
2 years later, I waited for "On My Way" with great anticipation and.....was sorely dissapointed. Then, a month ago, Amazon gave me a notice that Ben was back in business with a new album. It's self-titled (not always a good sign), "Ben Kweller," so I was concerned. Then I heard "Penny on the Train Track" and all was well. September 19, the album's release date, is now sitting cheerfully on my calendar. Now you can feel the relief too.
From "Sha Sha" (Buy)
Ben Kweller - Sha Sha
From "Ben Kweller" (Pre-order)
Ben Kweller - Penny on the Train Track
Bob Dylan is touring with Junior Brown in ballparks.....(Junior Brown can kick Bob's ass on guitar any day)....the link will demystify tour dates for you
The latest Rolling Stone piece on Paris Hilton...the actual reason I'm posting this link is that the comments people posted about this article almost made me fall out of my seat, I was laughing so hard...
William Shatner on Comedy Central...what a hilarious redundant statement
Josh Ritter's on Conan O'Brien TONIGHT. Power of tivo for me. Think NBC, 12:35 am...
Other thoughts: my favorite part of this lovely photograph of dear Paris is the cell phone.
"Americanitis," Will Kimbrough's new album, came out *gasp* on July 25. I've finally listened to it and it's lovely, anti-war and anti-current-state-of-the-country folk music. Imagine if Bob were still relevant.......which reminds me, Slate's top 10 dead songwriters?
Have a listen:
Will Kimbrough - Warring Ways
Will Kimbrough's Website / MySpace
Buy "Americanistis" from Amazon
Pedro the Lion – Foregone Conclusions
“And you were too busy steering the conversation toward the Lord
to hear the voice of the Spirit, begging you to shut the fuck up.
You thought, it must be the devil, tryin to make you go astray.
And besides, it could not have been the Lord
because you don't believe he talks that way.”
Iron and Wine - Jesus the Mexican Boy
No, this song isn’t particularly religious except for the title….unless you choose to interpret it a certain way. It tells the story of the narrator screwing over his friend “Jesus the Mexican Boy” by running off with his sister. Jesus forgives him, no questions asked.
Mason Jennings – Jesus, Are You Real?
“Are you just a word I use
When I don’t understand?”
Bright Eyes – When the President Talks to God
…more about politics than religion, but…
Sufjan Stevens – God’ll Ne’er Let You Down
Bob Dylan – With God On Our Side
“When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.”
Fluxblog had an excellent interview on the subject way back in May
His most recent album, "Idols of Exile," (buy it from Amazon) came out last June (I'm behind), and according to his website he'll be supporting the Stills & Metric this fall - no exact dates yet. However, I do have his US solo dates....
Sept 11 - Burlington , VT @ Higher Ground
Sept 12 - Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East
Sept 13 - Brooklyn, NY @ Warsaw
**** Sept 14 - Washington, DC @ the Black Cat ****
Sept 15 - Charlottesville, VA @ the Satellite Ballroom
Sept 17 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle
Sept 18 - Athens, GA @ the 40 Watt
Sept 19 - Birmingham, AL @ Bottletree
Sept 21 - Dallas, TX @ The Cavern
Sept 22 - Austin, TX @ The Parish
Sept 26 - Solana Beach, CA @ The Belly Up
Sept 28 - Los Angeles, CA @ Echo Plex
Sept 30 - Los Angeles, CA @ Shoreline Ampitheater
Live songs from this January
2. We All Lose One Another
3. Feral Republic
4. Brownie Hawkeye
5. Not Over You
6. Hangover Days (feat. Feist)
7. Blue Days
8. I'll Bring the Sun
9. Waiting for the World
10. Pavement Puddle Stars
Jason Collett's Website / Myspace
Ben Gibbard + DNTEL = The Postal Service!
The Postal Service - Clark Gable
(buy "Give Up" on Amazon)
Ben Gibbard + Chris Walla + Nick Harmer + Jason McGerr = Death Cab For Cutie (but you knew that already, you hipster - you)
Death Cab For Cutie - Quit Smoking
(Buy "Plans" on Amazon - Yes, I know "Quit Smoking" is not from "Plans")
Ben Gibbard + a Walkman (think the Walkmen) = All-Time Quarterback
All-Time Quarterback - Plans Get Complex
Ben Gibbard + more Ben Gibbard = Ben Gibbard solo awesomeness
Ben Gibbard - Carolina
.......but it doesn't end there....
Ben Gibbard + Conor Oberst + Jenny Lewis = Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins????
Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins - Handle With Care (Travelling Wilburys cover)
Ben Gibbard (on drums) + The Long Winters = ???
The Long Winters - Carparts
Wow. I so give up now.
Those Transatlantics - The Other Cheek
Those Transatlantics - In Your Neighborhood
Buy "Knocked Out" on Amazon
Those Transatlantics' MySpace / Website
Yes, some of these links are a week old, but...
- NPR story on Tom Verlaine's (think Television) new album
- Celebrating? 25 years of MTV
- Jamie Cullum's tour with Josh Ritter
- Download Sleater-Kinney's 9:30 Club Performance
- Everything you ever wanted to know about "the Avalanche" from the Torture Garden...also, a more recent post about Avalanche backlash.
- Ted Leo's pitchfork show...and blood
- Free songs on iTunes...you've got to have facebook first, though
- new Youth Group track
- oowwww....Pete Best, the Beatle who got un-Beatled by the other Beatles, still can't play drums.
- the power of School House Rock revamped
actually, I meant ALL these links.
The Postal Service - the District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Good Charlotte - East Coast Anthem (I know I'm killing my cred by posting this one...oh well)
Youth Group - Why Don't the Buildings Cry?
Wilco - Far, Far Away
Supergrass - Moving
Sufjan Stevens - Chicago (acoustic) I can never come up with enough excuses to post this song...
the Shins - Gone For Good
The Echoes started off, and I don't have a lot of to say about them....they were very "Southern Rock" (aka crappy, Tom Petty sound-alike) and I spent most of their set making fun of the lead singer, wondering why the drummer wasn't in a metal band, and watching the cute "bassist" (according to their website)...who was playing a guitar...? Not really my thing.
To understand why I was making fun of the lead singer, check their MySpace. The picture is of him.
the next band was Everyone But Pete, whose fans made themselves very present very quickly, taking over the area near the stage and singing along with all the lyrics. The band itself was good, but sounded like every other band that gets played on DC101.....their website makes that abundantly clear that's what they're aiming for. Their lead singer (we'll call him Jim) really knew how to work the crowd, as did their lead guitarist and bassist, which made it a fun show to watch. It was hard not to like them, as earnest as they were about being the next big thing....
Everyone But Pete's Myspace / Website
So...the real reason I came......the Reggae.
I have less to say about Lionize as performers, as they were the most focused on their music of the three bands, and sadly, were not nearly as fun to watch. But the MUSIC was incredibly funky and even political (their name means "to assign great social importance to"), so they're the ones I'm posting.
Lionize - Down With the Ship (doesn't this intro sound REALLY familiar? I can't figure out where they stealed it from, but steal they did...)
Lionize - Spanish Town
Lionize - Mummies Wrapped in... (the lead singer's supposed attempt at rap)
Lionize - Patriot Payroll Thugs (the name gives it away...)
Lionize's MySpace / Website
They're pretty damn awesome. I've already posted my favorite Long Winters' song (Pushover), but I'll do it again....
The Long Winters - Pushover (a personal fav)
The Long Winters - Honest
The Long Winters - Ultimatum (rec'd)
Buy "Putting the Days To Bed" @ Amazon
More (legal) downloads from The Long Winter's Website
So why do I love the Long Winters? The songwriting, duh. "Pushover," despite being more or less a two chord song, describes unrequited love to a friend with all the frustration and desperation involved. "I just want you to say......Come on......."
Midlake - Roscoe (highly rec'd)
Midlake - We Gathered in Spring
Buy "the Trials of Van Occupanther" @ Amazon
I don't know about you, but when I listen to Midlake's "Roscoe," I feel like a cool cat. Maybe it's the way the bass fades into the piano intro. Maybe it's the way the two vocals intermingle as subtly as you would expect from, say, a Beatles song. Maybe it's the fact that everything's in a minor key. I have figured it out yet. Yes, the lyrics are uninspired...but does it really matter?
And some more...
Sky Larkin - Young Lungs (rec'd)
This little piece of joy from Sky Larkin is another song that makes me feel like a cool cat. Yet again, I feel like the intro / main riff between verses has something to do with it. Only this one makes my feet tap... "Now it moves, now it moves, now it moves through us...."
Sky Larkin's MySpace
Canasta - Shadowcat
Canasta - Slow Down Chicago (rec'd)
Canasta's Shadowcat feels like it could be a Jamie Cullum or Ben Harper or even Daniel Powter track, and I mean that in the best way possible. Very piano driven.....only the lyrics are way more subtle than you would find from any of them. What I particularly like about this song is its theological concerns...it rebuffs self-righteous Christians in a quiet and convincing way. Which, guaranteed, makes me happy.
You know, I'm thinking about doing a Christiany post, as someone who grew up in a church and has serious issues with the way most self-proclaimed Christians act and think....
Canasta's Website / Myspace (with downloads)
Bree Sharp - Lazy Afternoon (rec'd)
The best way to describe Bree Sharp is that she's what Liz Phair would have sounded like if she hadn't misplaced the intelligence in her music when she decided to go mainstream (aka, catchy). That's really all I have to say about that. Also, you may know her from her song "David Duchovny"...
Bree Sharp's Website / Myspace
FYI, The Pipettes are sooooo overated.
Aug 12 - Mae, the Spill Canvas, Army of Me @ the 9:30 Club... $15
Aug 23 - Beirut @ the Warehouse Nextdoor (price unknown)
Aug 27 - Aloha, Rahim @ the Black Cat... $8
Sept 4 - Birdmonster @ the Black Cat (w/ the Sammies)... $8
Sept 14 - Rogue Wave @ the Black Cat... $13 in advance
Sept 15 - M. Ward @ the Birchmere... $17.50
Sept 20 - Glenn Kotche and Nels Cline (Wilco's newish drummer and lead guitarist) @ the Black Cat... $15
Sept 23 - VIRGIN FESTIVAL (Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Who, the Killers, the Flaming Lips, the Raconteurs, Gnarls Barkley, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, the New Pornographers, Keane...and more) @ Pimlico Race Course...$97.50 (the price being the downside)
Sept 25 - Architecture in Helsinki @ the Black Cat... $13
Sept 28 - The Mountain Goats @ the Black Cat... $13
Oct 3 - French Kicks, the Little Ones @ the Black Cat... $13
Oct 5 - Woody Guthrie tribute concert ...with Pete Seeger & more @ the Birchmere... $35
Oct 6 & 7 - Jamie Cullum & Josh Ritter @ the 9:30 Club
Oct 17 - Art Brut, the Spinto Band @ the Black Cat... $13
Oct 26 - The National @ the Black Cat... $13
Oct 28 - The Fray @ Constitution Hall...$35
Nov 15 & 16 - Dar Williams @ the Birchmere...$29.50
Oct 31 - Tapes N' Tapes @ the Blact Cat... $12