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· · 2001-2003 favorites · ·
- "Calling All Angels" - Train . Man this thing soars! The chorus soars, the verses soar, and that whole "I won't give up...if you don't give up" thing is just breathtaking. My first Train song was "Meet Virginia" and in many ways it's still my favorite, but they're on quite a roll: "Drops of Jupiter" and now this.
- "Horndog" - Overseer . The TV commercial for the Mitsubishi Endeavour. Tight guitar, tight bass, tight drums. I want more of this. Where's the damned CD?
- "Extra Ordinary" - Better Than Ezra . This came next after "Swing Swing Swing" on the Dish Network rotation. Acoustic guitar, tambourine, hand claps. "Con fuego, baby."
- "Swing Swing Swing" - All American Rejects . A girl in my science class had a picture of this lead singer on her notebook. "All American Rejects?" "Yeah," she said, "they're pretty good." Didn't give it much thought, but then this came around on Dish Network's modern rock channel and lo, I have me a new pop tune to whistle. I've said it many times to many people: "Me likes the edgy college alternative and hard rock/rap etc etc, but I'm ALWAYS a sucker for a good pop tune.
- "Knock On The Sky" - SheDaisy . Not the CD, the song. Which is on the CD, naturally, but you're lucky if you know that because they took what could be argued as the strongest song on the CD and HID THE DAMN THING. No kidding, we had this CD for several months before we knew the song was on there, six or seven minutes after the end of "Keep Me" on track #13. (I'm sure it's been written elsewhere but in parts this song sounds like a terrific knock-off of Sheryl Crow singing "The Na Na Song" from her first album.)
Better yet, there is a self-referential irony here: a song about being who you are, not fearing public opinion, and this song, whose very existence as a straight pop song on a country-pop album could be viewed as an embodiment of that premise, and even contains lyrics like
"Stand up and listen to the sister, mister
Been around here long enough
We're strong enough
We're gonna sing the song enough...
To shake this institution/
...you know we're gonna say
Just what we're gonna say.../
To thine ownself be true"
...the point being that it all would be a bit more inspiring had it not been suppositorily buried on the CD, and not even mentioned on the CD booklet except for an "oh by the way" in fine print. Which come to think of it is kind of reassuring since it seems the girls of SheDaisy take risks the way I take risks, by sort of taking risks.
- "Twist" - Korn . Jon Davis singing thrash-scat over a classic waffle-stomping Korn riff. The real moment in this song though, the real Maalox Moment for me (the point of complete sphincter release) is about 30 seconds in, after Jon has said the fourth "twist," and the drums come down like a wall of cinder blocks.
- "Hella Good" - No Doubt . Figure this out: I hear this song, I don't much care for it. I hear it several times and still don't. A few weeks later I just HAPPEN to be flipping broadcast channels (something I NEVER do since I A) have satellite and don't need the big 4 networks, and B) avoid the big 4 networks at almost all costs anyway) and I catch No Doubt playing this song live on I think it was Jay Leno. And they were TIGHT. And so now I don't dislike the studio version anymore. In fact I really REALLY like it. The bass sounds like a fart (desctiptively, not judgmentally) the keyboard might very well be a Casiotone.
- "When It All Goes Wrong Again" - Everclear I think this has to qualify as Everclear's most balls-out song. Reckless abandon comes to mind.
- "Get On The Floor" - Promise Ring The Morphine-esque lo-fi break halfway through got my attention. And now this inane chours ("I feel paranoid. I get on the floor and I just freak out.") Is stuck in my gourd.
- "Blue Boy" - Texas Is The Reason Sometimes you listen for hours and don't hear a thing you like, sometimes you turn the radio on and catch a gem, mid-stroke. Such was the case with this song, so I have no idea how it starts.
- "Rock Star" - N.E.R.D.S. It's almost over now. Almost over now. That's it. I like that chorus. Not much else. Well, the "rhyming on the top of a cop car" line is pretty cool too.
- "Svefn-G-Englar" - Sigur Ros. An Eno-esque ambient piece from the soundtrack to Vanilla Sky. The loopy "It's you-oo" chorus lyric was annoying the first time I heard it, but after that first listen it took me under it's spell and just...won't...let...go.
- "It's Goin' Down" - Xecutioners & Linkin Park. VERY tight rock/rap. Airtight.
- "Down With The Sickness" - Disturbed. Dave Draiman is something like a one-trick pony, but what a trick, eh? His vocals are instantly recognizable because they are almost identical from song to song. I liked "Stupify" a lot and I like this a little better.
- "The Key To Gramercy Park" - Deadsy. Cher's son Elijah Blue is the singer in this, what is basically keyboard band but which flashes a lot of guitar. (The guitars are mixed "fat" and have the same sort of timbre that Jimi Hendrix's rhythm gutiar had, although Hendrix got his sound by running his guitar through a bass amp.) And a lot will be made about who his mom is, but I think he looks a hell of a lot more like Gregg Allman. (Revenge of the Hittites?) (Oh, and one other thing...am I the only one that gets a creeping "stonehenge in Spinal Tap" vibe from that little key in the middle of the floor in this video?)
- "Stick Em Up" - Quarashi. (Forgive me, but I keep thinking of Jamiroquai whenever I see this band's name.) The best rock band from Iceland since The Sugarcubes (and I'm only saying that because I haven't heard of any other bands from Iceland, though I'm sure that dozens exist.) Is it the Icelandic accent that makes them sound like they're singing "Stick Him Up" (as opposed to "Stick Em Up") in the chorus?
- "In/Out" - Remy Zero. Basic major chord chorus. Catchy conventional alternative/pop.
- "Opticon" - Orgy. This has a very strong glam feel to it.
- "Still Fighting It" - Ben Folds. Very pretty, and wehn you find out he's singing to his newborn son, very moving.
- "Sinner" - Drowning Pool. Shades of Troublegum-era Therapy? A very catchy pop melody trying to hide in a metal tune.
- "Hey Baby" - No Doubt. Chill out. (Chill out.) It's Bounty Killer and No Doubt. GREAT RHYTHM SECTION! Impossible not to move to. And Gwen Stefani gets easier to look at every time I see her.
- "How You Remind Me" - Nickelback. Very harsh lyric, very tight band. (And am I the only one that thinks the singer looks like most paintings of Jesus?)
- "My Generation" - Limp Bizkit. Could this band be any tighter than they are here? Could be since this is only about the third or fourth song of theirs that I've heard, but for the drive into work in the morning, this is better than espresso. The down-tuned rhythm guitar intercut with the major-third harmonics are just way too damned good to be missed, and EVEN BETTER when the drums jump in.
- "Fat Lip" - Sum 41. They were on Saturday Night Live and played the CRAP out of this. Then I heard the album version and actually liked it a bit better. It's the way that opening guitar lick stays above the mix after the tidal-wave rhythm section crashes in, THAT'S what I love about this song. The rapping may be good...I couldn't tell you. The only lyrics I have committed to memory are the "waste - my - time" words in the chorus. Speaking of wasting time....
- "Waste Of Time" - Guster. Comment pending.
- "Letters" - Stroke 9. Comment pending.
- "October" - Collapsis. Shadow me accordingly. (Comment pending.)
- "Leaving Town" - Dexter Freebish. Comment pending.
- "Raining" and "Superboy" - The Bears. In the late 80s and early 90s I had a subscription to Guitar Player magazine in which were featured prominent guitarists of the day. Often, when I hear many musicians I respect fawn over another musician, I'm compelled at least to give a listen to the object of their affections; see what the fuss is all about. Occsionally this will yield a new favorite (Eric Johnson, Michael Hedges, Ry Cooder, etc.) but just as occasionally I'll be forced to admit that I don't get it. So it went with Adrian Belew. No questioning the virtuosity, but like the music of Yngwe Malmsteen, Allan Holdsworth and to a lesser extent, Jeff Beck, I could not connect with what I was hearing. Which is why I was thrilled to learn that a cool song I'd heard on the radio was by a band whose guitar player was none other than. (Turned out to be "Fear Is Never Boring.") The Bears released two albums, one in 87 and another a year later, and to ME it sounded like an accomplished instrumentalist taking a whack at fitting his esoteric style into a pop framework. Also to ME, it succeeded brilliantly. Both being from the first Bears album, these songs are two of eight or nine that I crave crave crave. The follow up album "Rise And Shine" has fewer favorites--about 5--but that percentage still shames most other albums. The REAL shame though, is that the Bears, for all their pop genius, never found a wider audience, joining artists like Human Radio and Rob Jungklas in the "It's A Crime No One Knows Them" bin.
- "Get Ur Freak On" - Missy Elliott. I first heard this three or four months ago as background music on ESPN SportsCenter, of all things. Never heard it again so I didn't know what it was called or who sang it. Then last weekend me and my next door neighbor each hosted an exchange student, both of whom, it turns out, were from Thailand. My neighbor's student had several CD mixes burned for her by her host-sister, and one of the mixes had this song. Strong beat, but of course that's saying nothing these days. This song has a lot of quick breaks where the beat stops COLD opening windows for references to (not samples of) other rap songs. The thing that keeps me coming back to this--aside from Missy's airtight rapping--is that tinkling little keyboard lick (I'm assuming it's a keyboard) that's sprinkled overtop the whole song. (7/7/01)
- "Six Feet Under" theme song - Thomas Newman. Love at first sound. Pizzacato strings, some woodwind or other (a recorder? Oboe?) and a couple catchy melodies. The coolest TV theme song since maybe Cheers. (In fact, the entire 90 second opening sequence is memorable. From the harshly-lit washing hands, to the spot-zoom (or whatever you call it) on the beaker emptying of embalming fluid, to the close-up of the cormorant's feet on the headstone.) (6/12/01)
- "I Must Have Been Blind" - Heather Duby. First things first: I'm only partly sure her name is pronounced "doobie." Tell me if you know better. The song is Heather's cover of a Tim Buckley tune, to be found on a tribute CD: Sing A Song For You. (Buckley died young, and like Nick Drake left behind a body of work that has only gained in popularity.) I've heard both versions, and each has many things by which to recommend it, but my nod goes to Heather's. She's taken a song that wasn't written with a woman's vocal range in mind, and, as the cliche goes, made it her own. As sung by her the chorus flat soars. (12/24/00)
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