Trail Of Dead. "Wasted State Of Mind." Starts out disarmingly enough, with machine-gun bongos (yeah, bongos...or so it sounds) then the piano puts the eyebrows on it in a minor key, and stutter-step drums occasionally drop back into keep things from reaching fourth gear, but we're there soon enough with the vocals and a hummable melody. We keep going back to the bongos, so I get a very strong "AC/DC Thunderstruck--Never Really Gets Off The Ground" vibe from this. Then at about 3:28, the coda starts, and it's a long slow fade, or feels like it should be. Instruments bow one by one, until we're left with nothing but voice and, I think...an accordion?
James McMurtry. "We Can't Make It Here." Some blog mentioned this as a potent protest song, which it is, but I'm not intrinsically attracted to protest songs. Most of the time they're simply trying too hard in my book. But I *did* remember McMurtry from about 1990 when I bought to his debut album Too Long In The Wasteland. Given how much I liked—still like, in fact—that CD, I'm baffled as to why have I not looked him up sooner. This one pushes some liberal hot buttons (CEO bashing, the poor falling through the cracks) but also some conservative ones (VietNam vets falling through the cracks, rampant crime) so if one must classify this as a protest song—and I'm wagering McMurtry would not—you have to grant that the object of its scorn is life's general evils, and not one source.
Keane. "Is It Any Wonder." I've found no Keane songs on any of my usual blog haunts (Fluxblog, TRGAW, a few others), but am quite lucky to ghave found the two of theirs that I do have first on SIRIUS radio (whence "Bend and Break" came) and "Is It Any Wonder" from the net-based Atlanta (I think) station mentioned in the next entry about the Raconteurs.
The Raconteurs. "Steady As She Goes," "Level." Usually on the rare days when I can listen to music at work I bring CDs or my iPod. I found myself working late with no music one day so I went to net radio and found, within a large scroll of alternative stations, some nameless Atlanta offering. Conveniently listing the current song and artist, along with the preceding 10 tunes, I found two worth keeping in 25 minutes. This was one. I didn't know Jack White of the White Stripes had joined/formed a band, but I DID know that Brendan Benson, White's new bandmate, was responsible for two of my favorite songs recently, "Folksinger," and "Cold Hands Warm Heart." (Come to think of it, Jack himself contributed a favorite to my long lists: "My Doorbell.")
Trail Of Dead. "So Divided." Somebody's really onto something here. It starts out feeling like Ben Folds, and builds, and waxes and wanes, and builds some more, and by about the three minute mark the thing is bashing. HARD, like old Who. Not thrashing mind you: bashing. At one point we're treated to 16 measures of quarter-note cymbal bashing —a full minute...64 bashes—then a brief respite, and then more! Somehow it works, and I want to know more about this band! Found at http://www.therichgirlsareweeping.blogspot.com/
120 Days. "Come Out (Lansing-Dreiden remix) 2nd version." Techno-dance that you've most likely heard before if you like Techno-dance. But the preponderance of the major-third in the chorus's base line has some sort of freaky hypnotic effect on me here. And I've always been a sucker for a cool bass melody. Found at http://www.therichgirlsareweeping.blogspot.com/
Kudu. "Hey 50." So tell me: Do you buy any of it when what sounds like a twenty-something hottie sings a love song to a 50 year old? ("Hey 50, I don't mind if you don't mind/As long as we're both alive at the same time/Mother Nature called me up, she said that it was fine/'Cause in my mind we've been involved/in every kind of tangle/I stop, rewind, playback and pause/at every single angle) Mee-YOW! Hey, I'm 42 next month...A GUY CAN HOPE, CAN'T HE? (Found at BLISS's Oct 06 list: blisspop.com/playlist.html)
Beyonce. "Get Me Bodied.". MAN this is catchy sh**!! Granted, Beyonce is holding pretty much one note throughout the length of this song, but it SO WORKS. Especially when she harmonizes with herself in the chorus...it reminded me a lot of Basia. (And how about all these weird HEYs and YOs and JIGGYs at the start! These vocalizations add enormously to the rhythm..I can't imagine what this song would be like without them.) Found on http://fluxblog.org/.
Asobi Seksu. "Strawberries (Cassettes Won't Listen Remix)". A simple piano rhythm is supported by a fat back beat....but then the beat stops and the song becomes a dance groove. And then the beat comes back as does that erstwhile piano! Found at http://www.therichgirlsareweeping.blogspot.com/
Steven J. Bernstein. Prison. Beat poetry usually isn't my thing, but then it usually isn't good, IMHO. A friend sent me to postpunkjunk for the music but this is what my brain latched onto...not with the ferver with which it drools over other things on this page, but still. (Found on the 8/18/06 entry of http://www.postpunkjunk.com/.)
George Strait. "Give It Away.". Sometimes goodbye means "I MIGHT be back in a month or two, after I've bounced off one or two rebounds,(so to speak)" sometimes it means "I just need to cool off," and sometimes...well...sometimes when someone says goodbye they leave no g**d***** doubt that you will never see their a** again. This song is a beautiful precis of that third situation, and as such reminds me a lot of Blackhawk's anthem-to-it's-over, "Goodbye Says It All."
Kelis. "Milkshake LIVE-SNL". Feb. 14, 2004, Kelis is the musical guest on Saturday Night Live (hosted by Drew Barrymore that night) and just LIGHTS IT UP. This is rock and roll, people! Heavy guitar is present and whoever is drumming is Doc-Ocking it all over the kit. I STILL air guitar to this. (e-mail and I'll send you a copy.)
The Loud Family. "Total Mass Destruction". A blast of indie-pop frustration and indignation ("Why keep recording this sh** if no one cares?") disguised as a blast of indie-pop, in 2/4 time. And how about that vocal harmony breather about a minute from the end? Found on http://fluxblog.org/.
A plus D. "Behind These Cannonball Eyes (Kelly Clarkson vs. The Breeders)." Another cool mash-up. "Cannonball" is and will remain one of my alltime favorite tunes IN LIFE. After hearing this mash I went after the Kelly Clarkson song ("Behind These Hazel Eyes") but ended up not liking it nearly as much on its own. (Found at http://www.RebelDJs.com.)
Jane's Addiction. "True Nature." Don't know when this came out or which album it's on. All I know is that in two years, Cooper Tires has gone from using Arnold Palmer as their pitchman, to commercials that blast this song and look like a trailer for Fast And The Furious, Pt. III. (Certainly not to judge; it was in one of said commercials that I found this tune.)
Keene Brothers. "Beauty Of The Draft." They have no web page..excuse me? Very mainstream, but I'm an unapologetic sucker for a catchy hook. Always have been. (Found at http://somevelvetblog.blogspot.com/.)
Irving. "I Want To Love You In My Room." A very catchy chorus. An "Afternoon Delight" for this decade. From http://fluxblog.org/.
Snowglobe. "Changes." Kicksoff with piano (always a good sign) and also kicks off with the sugary G-G-F-C chord pattern (which is a transposition of the EEDA pattern that I love so much, mentioned below, talking about "Nth Degree" by Morningwood) (Found at Some Velvet Blog: http://somevelvetblog.blogspot.com/ just moments before the author stripped out the older posts—including the one with this song—to make room for today's post. The post about it is now the newest post in SVB's May archives, but of course the songs are gone. Bummah.)
Swimmer One. "We Just Make Music For Ourselves." Lovely, lovely pop, with one word per measure! We. Just. Make. Make. Music. For. Ourselves. (Found at BLISS's APRIL 06 list: blisspop.com/playlist.html)
Sufjan Stevens. "Chicago." This guy has been getting off-the-graph press for a while now, so I checked out some of his stuff and it really (I mean REALLY) left me flat. Very "squishy," for lack of a better term. Now "Chicago" here is pretty squishy too, but with an utterly irresistable melody. When the choir (sounds like a choir to me) jumps in on the melody at the end, this song soars. All things go. All things go. Found at http://therichgirlsareweeping.blogspot.com/
Rest Assured. "Treat Infamy." "Bittersweet Symphony" came up on my song shuffle and it led to a little research about the sampling tiff between the Verve and the Rolling Stones, which led to a mention of the sample also appearing in this. This sucker explodes out of the chute and keeps an irresistable dance beat going for about a minute then pauses for sample and of course you immediately think "Bittersweet Symphony," and the guy does a light rap over the strings.....and at about the 2:30 mark the dance beat rejoins, pretty as you please.
White Stripes. "My Doorbell." Found a copy of "Pump Up The Doorbell" on http://somevelvetblog.blogspot.com/ which is a quite catchy mash, and that led me directly to this. As I mentioned discussing Sleater-Kinney below (in the 2005 section), I have WANTED to like the White Stripes for a long time but, save for a general contentment with "Hello Operator" I haven't been blowled over...til now of course. And it's a piano tune, no less!
Camille. "Ta Douleur." Meee-YOW!! This became my favorite song the moment I first heard it. (Yeah, it's one of those kind of really catchy f***ers. The raspberry/beat-box is goofy, but only mildly annoying in the company of such an irresistible hook, chorus and voice! Found at http://aurgasm.us/.
Elbow. "Ribcage." Can't believe I haven't mentioned this song before. Such a simple melody...I found it in November and I'm STILL catching myself humming this loping, languid melody.
Delays. "Valentine." Sounds like chicks but it's guys. Starts out sounding like techno, then pop, but then a lot of guitar evinces. Sounds like a love song but it's really about New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. Which doen't mean it couldn't also be a love song of course. (Found at BLISS's March 06 list: blisspop.com/playlist.html)
Monsoon. "Ever So Lonely." Ever so lonely with you. (You say the sweetest things.) (found at siart.com)
Quantazelle. "Braking (Hushed.)" At the end of The Comedians of Comedy (the TV show, not sure if it's the same as the movie) there is this nutty look at the four stars in, say, 50 years. The music in the background is this song. And whoever Quantazelle is, they have the coolest name since Wichita Caravan. (She. The band is not a they—or even a band, I suppose—but a she.)
The Light Bulb Project. "If I Liked Sports I'd Be One." Pure and liquid keyboard pop. Don't know where they're from but it's sounds and feels like Europe. Regardless, THE HARMONIES! I once heard someone describe harmonies that could "weld steel." The bublegum feel of this song notwithstanding, these vocals, processed up the wazoo though they may be, fit that description. (found on BLISS's Feb list: blisspop.com/playlist.html)
Elefant. "Uh Oh Hello."
Ken Stringfellow. "Death of a City."
Cristina Branco. "Cristal (Tinha Algum Vinho Ainda)" [crystal, it still has some wine] (found on ShakeYourFist: shakeyourfist.blogspot.com)
Gary Jules. "Mad World." The same guy that recommended The Chocolate War down in the book section recommended a head-rush, time-warp, freak-bomb-explosion of a movie called Donnie Darko, the climax of which plays soundlessly behind this plaintive ballad.
Nellie McKay. Pick a song. "There You Are In Me," "The Big One," "Columbia Is Bleeding," "We Had It Right." They're all, literally, amazing. Rhythmically complex, musically deft, lyrically astute. I can't believe millions of people don't know her music. (I know, I've already talked about her a few spots down. It's my party, bitches.)
The 6ths. "You You You You You." I read an interview with Patton Oswalt, one of my favorite comedians. He has a pissy, sarcastic, yet insightful sense of humor that I have come grown to.....never mind. The interviewer asked him which song made him feel the best (or made him smile, or some such) when it came around on his iPod. He said this one so I went out and found it, and now *I* love it. It's a weakly sung, sappy lyric warbled over what sounds like a $40 gut-string guitar.
Mill Race. "Riding The Root Canal." I don't know how you'd classify this...sort of alt-folky, but weird. The guy's singing stying is a combination of slacker and high-anxiety. Which makes no sense, I realize, but still.
Nickel Creek. "Out Of The Woods." Slow and sweet. I swear, those harmonies could friggin' weld steel. (And whomever decided to add those pulsing cellos at 3:25 is some kind of a genius. At least I think they're cellos. Could be violins I guess.) And they do a fantastic cover of Britney Spears's song "Toxic." (No kidding.)
Nellie McKay. "The Big One"I don't know what blog I found her on, but I'm more than thankful. This song evokes artists as disparate as Rasputina, Tori Amos, Ani DeFranco. Witty lyrics, whimsical yet serious singing...AND a wicked sense of humor.
* 2005 Favorites*
(Dec - Jan)
Pink Floyd. "The Wall" The movie, the album, love it love it LOVE IT. I always have, but I got the DVD for Christmas and it has emerged as my favorite present. The music is dynamic (to say the least) and occasionally harsh and thought-provoking, adjectives that could be applied as easily to the film as well [Whoever edited the Retrospective documentaries did a thorough job of downplaying the animosity that evidently remians between the film's trio of creators Roger Waters (screenplay & music of course) Alan Parker (direction) and Gerald Scarfe (animation. And it's pronounced "scarf," fyi.) In the retrospective, Waters says the movie is deeply flawed because of the utter absence of humor, which he claims is prominent in his work. He's wrong. Not because the movie isn't depressing—it surely can be—but because little humor if any is in evidence on the album, save for perhaps the exaggerated pomposity of the trial judge.]
Sam Winch. "Ballad For The Common Man." It's the theme song for the Comedy Central show "The Comedians Of Comedy," (which show is beyond hilarious: I've DVRed every episode of and ain't planning on erasing them anytime soon.) The song sounds like it could be Son Volt or maybe Wilco. The album whence it comes has the coolest album title of the year: The Lullabadeer.
Shfifty-Five. First time I heared this I thought "Hampster Dance." (i.e. Worthless and dumb.) Heard it again and couldn't get it out of my head.
Sleater-Kinney. "Oh." I have been wanting to like this band for YEARS, and FINALLY I found a song by them that can fill the bill. (Unlike bands like Sonic Youth, to name one. If you know of a SY song I might like, I'm all ears because I do want to like them.)
Morningwood. "Nth Degree."Ho WOW did this hit me like a f***ing ton of bricks. It's unquestionably and instantly pop, but there's an awful lot of guitar too. Now....look: When I fall instantly in love with a song I always try to figure out why. What is it about a song that causes you to merely like it when another song forces you to listen to it over and over and over? With this song—one of the latter—the analysis proceeds thusly:
the singer entreats the listener to "come on everybody" = hackneyed but cute!
the singer also entreats the listener to "turn up the radio" = also hackneyed but also cute!
she has a teenage girl singing voice = extremely cute!
they actually spell the name of their band in the chorus of the song = cute!
the first guitar you hear is drenched with delay (the "helicopter" effect that U2's The Edge popularized in the 80s and abandoned in the 90s) = cool!
the chord progression is the ubiquitous "E, E, D, A" (found in countless rock classics and a perennial favorite of mine) = cool!
the lyric "rock-n-roll, disco, heavy metal angel" is capped off by some metalhead banshee all but shredding his vocal cords on the "heavy metal angel" part = cool!
OK Go. "The House Wins." From the spanking new album Oh No. Many other strong songs on there, doubt it will be as start-to-finish amazing as their first album though (but that's asking too much: their debut is smart, melodic, tight...just a phenomenal album all the way around. Scroll down a few feet, I think my entry about that CD is still here...) (Heh heh. He said spanking. Heh heh.)
Flight Of The Conchords. Comedy guitar duo from New Zealand. Comparisons to Tenacious D are inevitable: Jermaine & Bret are in many ways just as funny as Jack & Kyle. They don't cuss as much and their songs aren't quite as melodic as TD's...but like I said: at least as funny and in many ways more so. (It kills me when a band doesn't have a web page! This google search should do you if you're curious.)
KT Tunstall. "Suddenly I See."
Yeah, it's pop, and no, it doesn't start out as pop (or seem to anyway)...that bass! That left-channel guitar chime/drone! That first verse! Another Stypod gem.
Elemeno P. "Fast Times In Tahoe." Shades of Weezer from way down under. (Is there another Tahoe besides Lake Tahoe? How can Tahoe be only 3000 miles from home if home is New Zealand? I know, a song doesn't have to speak literal truths...just wondering if.)
Dave Dobbyn. "Slice Of Heaven." On a recent trip to New Zealand I got to hear many Kiwi musicians. "Slice of Heaven" has rich choral chanting (you can't NOT sing along) which, intriguingly, contrasts with some noticeably dated 80s-90s pop keyboard textures.
Soul Coughing. "Lazybones," "Fully Retractable," "Buddha Rhubarb Butter," "St. Louise Is Listening," "Super Bon Bon," "Soundtrack To Mary," "Sleepless," "Down To This." After saying a moment ago how relatively uncatchy SC's songs were, I have to eat those words with fava beans and a nice chianti. My obsession with Mike Doughty's music has led to a near infatuation with Soul Coughing's. The over-used "aquired taste" adjectival phrase certainly applies here, as it takes several listens for my ear to divine something catchy in each song, but as with most of XTC's work, something irresistible almost always does emerge.
Mike Doughty. "His Truth Is Marching On," "Tremendous Brunettes," "27 Jennifers," "I Hear The Bells," "Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well," "American Car," "Ways & Means." He used to sing for Soul Coughing. None of their songs were nearly as catchy as these. Especially "27 Jennifers" and "Tremendous Brunettes." I am not kidding. This stuff was love at first listen for me. [Addendum, 04APR06; I'm still referring to Haughty Melodic as my current favorite CD, and it's been almost a year.]
Beck. Guero. "Girl" and "Hell Yes" are good, but for my money the final four songs ("Go It Alone," "Farewell Ride," "Rental Car," and "Final Exit") are as memorable as "Loser." Very catchy, eprcially "Farewell Ride" and "Emergency Exit." (The cutesy "fa la la la's in "Rental Car" are maybe too cutesy, but I'm a sucker for cute stuff.)
The Books. "An Animated Description Of Mr. Maps." Snapping drums, acoustic guitar (it sounds like) that double up in speed and pitch, a cool rambling rap punctuated on specific syllables by the aforementioned snappy drums.
Train. "Ordinary." It's an afterthought, at the end of Spiderman 2, but this song will probably be the thing from the film that sticks with me the most. I know, it's less like "Meet Virginia" and more like "Calling All Angels," and if this is bad news for you (on certain days it is for me) then leave this be. But it's got piano AND waffle-stomp guitar AND a catchy chorus. So its on the list.
Gwen Stefani & Eve. "Rich Girl" No, had you asked me if I thought Fiddler On The Roof could POSSIBLY spawn not just a dance tune but a REALLY GOOD dance tune, I would not have thought so. That tripping na-na melody ("If I was a rich girl/na-na na-na na-na, na-na na-na na-na-na-na-naaa") sounds perfctly natural coming from Stefani's lips!
Dandy Warhols. "Plan A," "You Come In Burned," "We Used To Be Friends," "Insincere Because I." I've been hearing and reading about this band for many years but never heard any of their stuff. Then last week I was clicking through the guts of iTunes and—completely on a whim—tuned in to an internet radio station (I *never* listen to internet radio). I caught the last 20 seconds of a song I instantly liked. After googling on what few lyrics were to be heard "All of us/all of us sing about it," I learned that this song is "Plan A." Which led me to several other DW songs to which I immediately took a violent liking. They remind me of a...what? "If You Were Here" by Thompson Twins comes to minds (I know almost nothing else by them). Who else though...ah yes: LOVE AND ROCKETS.
Green Day. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams." I haven't liked tremolo this much since "How Soon Is Now." Simple chords and simple melody, from a punk band! Like "The Time Of Your Life" this song seems to be the work of the most fantastically overachieving band in history. I don't think that any more. I think Green Day is just way the hell better than people are willing to give them credit for. And despite the punk label they know more about melody than most pop songwriters.
Kleptones. "Play." He/she/they, like Jason Forrest mentioned farther down, work strictly with samples of the work of others. "Play" is a hybridization of Queen's "Play The Game" and Electric Six's "Gay Bar." I've heard all three songs, and no offense to Electric Six, but that vocal fits overtop the Queen music in an elementally better way than it does their own music.
Olympic Hopefuls. "Holiday." When I write these little blurbs I more often than not have the song playing as I write. Well this song I've run twice through and keep coming up snake-eyes. I don't know what to say aside from the obvious: it's alternative-pop and it's melodic and energetic and I love it. And the drummer beats the hell out of his kit. Not quite Keith Moon, no. But still.
Momus. "Walter Carlos." I was thinking "neat story. Neat character." But Walter Carlos existed. He actually did create Switched On Bach in 1968. Which is not to say he exists. As the song says, he is now a she. Wendy Carlos, specifically-y.
The Mo. "Nostalgia Locomotive." Piano intro. 3/4 time. Na na, na-na na ending. This song doesn't have everything but it's got a lot. Elton John meets Kate Bush. Here comes the choo-choo, come on.
Kristen Chenoweth. "Popular," "What Feeling Is This". We stood in line for lottery tickets to see Wicked in NYC. We didn't get tickets, but I did pick up this soundtrack. WOW. Pure Broadway pop, catchy as HELL. No kidding, I've actually hopped out of bed to listen to these songs just once more before turning in for good. Chenoweth is some kind of genius. In "Popular," for instance, she has a couple subtle flourishes in the "don't make me laugh" line—"don't make me laugh! They were popular...PLEASE..."
· · 2004 favorites · ·
Todd Snider "Beer Run." "B, double E, double R, U N, beer run!" A friend recently said she liked Todd Snider. I'd heard of him but couldn't remember... so I searched for some of his stuff and found this hilarious song.
Jason Forrest "10 Amazing Years." He's taken Who classics ("Won't Get Fooled Again," "Baba O'Riley," many others) run them through his sampler, and spit out a song that, if you can believe it, rocks harder than the Who's originals. Which is not to say it's better. It's definitely a different animal, but it is undeniably tight and catchy sh**.
Girls Aloud "The Show." Pure pop. Supposedly this is a girl group that started on a UK reality TV show. Girl groups designed for TV shows are supposed to be, collectively, a joke, right? Not here. This is all synth and dance-drum energy and it kicks boo-TAY.
M.I.A. "Galang." She's from London, but her dad is from Sri Lanka. It gives the song a VERY interesting feel, her Indian accent does. A tight club beat, not much melody (which is too bad, but still) and a catchy rap. Go here http://www.miauk.com and listen. Or go there and don't listen. Either way go there; It's a cool page.
Keane . "Bend And Break." The singer evokes Bono, the keyboards evoke Not Drowning Waving, the lush strings evoke...oh I don't know...someone who uses a lot of lush strings, I guess.
Mooney Suzuki . "Alive And Amplified." An unmistakable 60s influence combined with 90s alternative crunch. In fact, the more I think about it, this song more than any other single tune, combines elements of all decades between the 60s and today. (Save for, perhaps, the 80s.)
The Decemberists . "Leslie Anne Levine." "My name is Leslie Anne Levine/ My mother birthed me down a dry ravine/ My mother birthed me far too soon/ Born at nine and dead at noon." And that's about all that need be said about that.
Nancy Sinatra . "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)." More cool tunes from a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, in this case Kill Bill's. Not having had the luxury of being old enough to appreciate it when this song first came out, it's nice that a) someone dusted it off, and b) I happened to catch it.
Ozomatli . "Saturday Night." THIS SONG COULDN'T BE ANY TIGHTER. Bongos, horns, rapping, HEAVY guitar, tight drums. Think Fishbone, think Shootyz Groove. Found it in a car commercial, which sounds weird, but lately the car commercial directors have been findng some good songs. (Overseer's "Horndog" is another one I found in a car ad.)
The Fire Theft. "Hands On You," "Sinatra," "Chain." The year  is still almost 5 months from being over but I already have a horserace for favorite new band of the year. Right now OK Go (see below) is leading, but the good ol' Fire Theft here, wherever the hell they're from (UK?) is hot on their heels. And for the most part that is due to "Hands On You."
Emmylou Harris. "Here I Am." Lovely, lovely, good-golly-wolly-miss-molly, this is just plain lovely. http://www.emmylou.net/
Secret Machines. "Nowhere Again." What can I say...they try stuff and a lot of it really works. (Check out the waffle stomp rhythm of "Sad And Lonely"...I sense that Led Zeppelin might sound like this if they were all 22 years old now.) http://www.thesecretmachines.com/
Velvet Revolver. "Fall To Pieces." (Guns-N-Roses – Axel) + The guy fom Stone Temple Pilots = VR. Of all the songs on the album, this one most evokes old melodic G&R. And they have what must be the coolest rock website in years....
Blink 182. "Down." I've been hearing about this band for a LONG time, but I never really connected with them until his song.
Polyphonic Spree. "Hold Me Now." Retro, but the coolest catchiest retro you've heard, maybe ever. Rminded me a lot of the "I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing" sort of late 60s stuff, but also HUGELY influenced by the Beatles.
Dave Matthews. "Don't Drink The Water." He did an acoustic version of this on Sessions @ AOL" which was heavy-duty harsh (basically it's America ushering the Native Americans across North America, sung from the POV of the conquerors.)
Hot Action Cop. "Fever for the Flava." Heard this band on the soundtrack to the movie S.W.A.T. This song will remind you of Red Hot Chili Peppers way back when they were tight AND funny (i.e. young.) This may end up being my favorite song of the year. (Go here http://www.hotactioncop.com/ and click on AV Room, there are various versions of this song you can listen to, or watch the video.)
Folk Implosion. "Brand of Skin." This ain't much, but I think it's the classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts...the guitar line in here has been coursing through my brain since I first heard this song back in damned MARCH. May end up being my favorite song of the year.
Scissor Sisters. "Take Your Mama Out." They're not sisters, they're not females. If you're gay, take your mama out and party with her, she'll see that you being gay is not only nothing to be afraid of, it's pretty damned fun...or so the song would have us believe. (In a weird little twist of synchronicity, there's a part in Queen's song "Rock It-Prime Jive" that sounds alarmingly like a part in this song. Yep. You heard me right. A gay band has a song that sounds a lot like a song by a band named Queen. Ta da.)
O-Zone / Haiducii. "Dragostea Din Tei." O-Zone is a Moldovan band, this song is sung in Romanian (the language of Moldova) which makes it a BIG DEAL, since evidently Romanian-language songs don't sweep across Europe like friggin' WILDFIRE, which this song most definitely has done. Turns out the version that got my attention was done by Haiducii, an Italian band that rushed a quick knock-off cover to market. The neat thing for me here is you don't have to speak Romanian—certainly few people in western Europe do (the Austrian guy that got me hooked on it—a guy that speaks 5 languages—couldn't even tell it was Romanian, for chrissakes)—but melodies in here are irresistable. I'm not kiddng, you'll be humming three different parts of this song to yourself. Give it a listen. http://www.haiducii.net/mp3.htm
David Allen Coe. "If That Ain't Country (I'll Kiss Your Ass)." I have to recommend this song—it's flat amazing—but I also have to recommend it conditionally. It turns out ol' Dave here is a screaming racist, and he does indeed drop an N-bomb about a minute and a half into this, and for those of us who were raised that the n word is at least as bad if not worse than the f word, it's tough going listening to this. Too bad too because this would be on every country station in the world; evocative in a way that someone like Garth Brooks could never be (taking nothing away from Brooks, whose music I like quite a bit).
Paul Young. "The Love Of The Common People." Caught just a snatch of this in, I think, "Sixteen Candles." Lyrically it's kinda sappy, but it's also very melodic and catchy.
Frank Sinatra. "The Way You Look Tonight." A friend and I agreed to perform this for some colleagues: he sings, I play guitar. And I was pretty scared since I grew up on AC/DC and Van Halen and still play that sort of blues rock when I play. Somehow, I managed to learn the song—it wasn't easy—but now I have an appreciation for this guy whom the world has loved for well over a half-century.
Alanis Morrissette. "Everything," "Knees of My Bees," "So Called Chaos," "Doth I Protest Too Much." Used to hate her, now I love her. She seems to be getting better with age. I list four songs from the album "So Called Chos" but really, most of the rest is pretty impressive.
Jet. "Cold Hard Bitch." This is like good old Bon Scott-fronted AC/DC, so much so I'm sure they're sick of hearing that, but still.
Third Eye Blind. "Slow Motion." A student recommended this song to me, and the first time through it's pretty harsh. Well of course, ANY time you listen to a song like this it's harsh, but the melody starts to take over as the more compelling aspect of the s song, which, harsh as it is, is saying something.
Ying Yang Twins. Raunchy, lewd, and tight as a g**damned drum. "Salt Shaker" is the flavor of the moment for me.
Something Corporate. Melodic piano pop, like maybe what Billy Joel or Elton John might sound like had they been influenced by Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. Their nine-minute "Konstantin" might not be a masterpiece, but I bet it is. And "The Astronaut" is extremely catchy.
Busted. British alt-rock-pop trio. Kinda Green Day, kinda Foo Fighters, kinda Fountains Of Wayne (Check out the Stacey's Mom-ish vibe of "That's What I Go To School For" or the hilarious ode to identity theft "She Wants To Be Me.") "Year 3000" is funny too. "Not much has changed but they live underwater" (What the hell qualifies as a big change if not living underwater? LOL) What else is waiting for us then? "Boy bands. And another one. And another one. And. A. Nother one."
OK Go . Sweet melodies. Catchy, memorable, imminently hummable. I think they only have one album out (actually they have two -smr-) which I'm glad I have, and which may be the all-around best CD I've bought in the last year. (Songs to check out: "Return," "C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips," "What To Do," "Shortly Before The End," "Get Over It"...anything off the album, really.) This reviewer, Ira Glass, does as good a job as I could of explaining why I like this band so much. [4-12-04. My love for this band grows daily. "Return," while drenched in crunchy guitar is unquestionably the saddest song I've heard in years, "...you were supposed to grow old/you were supposed to grow old...", and "There's a Fire" is just a riot.]
Enon . Of all my eclectic tastes, this may be the farthest out. Think TMBG but with a grunge-punk attitude. (Songs I can't recommend enough: "Conjugate The Verbs," "Rubber Car," "Biofeedback") (3/23/04: add "Get The Letter Out" to that short list. Very XTC.)
CornMo . What the hell?? You won't believe this. Dorky, but funny, and the melodies are strong. Go to www.cornmo.com and click mp3s and check out the piano and other arrangements on "Busey Boy." Very catchy!
Spoon . I don't know how old this is, but I could SWEAR I've heard "Car Radio" for at least a couple years. Dig it! ("Back To The Life" ain't bad either.)
Newsboys . As with most Christian Pop, the "message" will occasionally get in the way if you're only there there for the music ("When the big one finds you/May this song remind you/that they don't serve breakfast in Hell...") but if you can't resist a catchy pop hook, this band has quite a few fantastic melodies. Check out "Beautiful Sound" and especially "Shine." (The aforementioned thinly veiled threat of eternal incineration is from a tune called "Breakfast.")
Holly Cole . Canadian jazz singer. AMAZING voice. But what's more amazing, to me, is her choice of songs to cover, and her arrangements. She does a cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" which just might make you forget Johnny Nash's original. Insane, right? Nash's version is amazing, a pop/soul standard right? Well, if I exaggerate it's not by much. Other amazing versions you should make every effort to check out: "Cruisin' " (Smokey Robinson), "I've Just Seen A Face" (Beatles), "Que Sera Sera" (Doris Day), "Come Fly With Me" (Sinatra), "Take Me Home" (Tom Waits), and so many others...."Calling You," "Smile," "Cry," "Make It Go Away," "Losing My Mind"...not sure who did the original versions of these.)
Self . Self is a band, these days. It started out as a guy named Matt Mahaffey, hisself, and truth be told, he's still the driving force in the band, writing everything and singing. But he's got the same folks recording with him as well as playing live, ergo: a band. I knew about their first album "Subliminal Plastic Motives" but that was like 1996 and it only recently ocurred to me to see if they had anything new to report. A google search led me to selfies.com, which led me to selfmusic.net. Fans of the band are doubly-blessed. A, they've found a phenomenally original and prolific rock and roll band, AND their band is not shy about sharing the love. selfies.com has so many songs to download, many of which are album quality. Even better news is their 5th album, Ornament & Crime is due out any moment, but until it is released check out the streaming B-sides at selfmusic.net. A few of the DLs at selfies are fantastic, but almost every streaming tune at selfmusic is album quality. I must say I've never seen anything like this...Self has released a new B-side every week since mid December. These are not album songs, these are B-sides that will not appear on the album. And almost without exception they are remarkable rock-n-roll songs. And pop too: at selfmusic, after the streaming starts automatically, click on the top right black dot in the finger print and click fast-forward to listen to "Now." (Songs to check out: "Trunk Fulla Amps," "Stay Home" (from Shrek, I KNOW you know this), "All Comes Out In The Wash," "Hey Deceiver," "Marathon Shirt," "Grow Up," "Cannon," "So Low," "Placing The Blame," "What Are You Thinking," etc.) (4-22-07: God how old is THIS post? selfmusic is long gone, Ornament and Crime is STILL unreleased but you can find it on the web with some industrious Googling. And Self, as a band, i think is gone. Mahaffey is working steadily, but I don't know if Self as an entity will record anything else.)