Friday, January 30, 2009

When My Love Crosses Over (Day 185)

Versus - "I Love The WB"
Franz Ferdinand - "Auf Achse"
Today's playlist felt even random-er than most. Lots of styles. Some bands I haven't heard in a while. Etc. And this track was a highlight. I'm kind of into Franz Ferdinand right now. I remember liking them when the rest of the world discovered them - - then dismissing them as one-hit wonders. But lo-and-behold (if that's even how you spell that), their new album is pretty darn good. It mixes Brit synth pop with some fuzzy rock and there's even a folky flourish at the end. Am I alone in my new-found Franz fetish?
Comets On Fire - "Dogwood Rust"
Smog - "Easily Led"
Taj Mahal - "Blind Boy Rag"
Annuals - "Mama"
My Morning Jacket - "I Will Sing You Songs" (live)
The National - "Slipping Husband"
John Hiatt - "When My Love Crosses Over"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 9
Total minutes of music (approx.): 42
Song with the most previous plays: "When My Love Crosses Over" - 9
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Today's commute seemed oddly quiet. Are people fleeing the big city for quieter, CHEAPER, living situations? And can I come?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

On The Sunny Side Of The Street (Day 184)

Animal Collective - "Lion In A Coma"
Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks" (live)
Animal Collective - "Banshee Beat"
I think I like Animal Collective's much ballyhooed album Merriweather Post Pavillion, but I'm still not sure how much. However today's two songs in close proximity definitely signal that the band is evolving in a good way. The former, from Pavillion, is still trademark AC - - electronic noise, cacophonous percussion, overlapping vocals. But it's also generally focused, concise and rhythmic. Whereas, "Banshee Beat" from 2005's Feels, is way more atmospheric and meandering. Change is good.
Devendra Banhart - "Dogs They Make Up The Dark"
Sufjan Stevens - "Holland"
Man, hearing this song today made me want a new Sufjan album. Where is it? Can't wait for the opus on my home state, New Jersey. I can just imagine what he'd do with the Turnpike, Pine Barrens, Thomas Edison, Jersey Devil, et al.
Dan Zanes - "On The Sunny Side Of The Street"
The Elected - "Don't Get Your Hopes Up"
Led Zeppelin - "Dazed And Confused"
Hmm. Not sure this Zep song has aged particularly well. (I won't mention this to my co-worker who actually just got "Zoso" and the other three symbols from IV tattooed on his bicep this week.) Other songs from the first album have stood up better, I think ("Good Times Bad Times," "How Many More Times"). This track just sounds a bit too grandiose, perhaps. It's hard not to think of a Jimmy Page "bow" solo...and then, naturally, Spinal Tap.

The Polyphonic Spree - "Section 24 [Fragile Army]"
Paul Westerberg - "Good Day"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 10
Total minutes of music (approx.): 44
Song with the most previous plays: "On The Sunny Side Of The Street" - 20
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Actually, this happened yesterday. In honor of the late John Updike I read his 1960 New Yorker essay on Ted Williams last game, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu". Not only is it awesome (this may be common knowledge and I may be late to the party), but it also contains my new favorite sentence about what makes sports so great found in American literature.
Nevertheless, there will always lurk, around a corner in a pocket of our knowledge of the odds, an indefensible hope, and this was one of the times, which you now and then find in sports, when a density of expectation hangs in the air and plucks an event out of the future.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Plans (Day 183)

Pixies - "Debaser" (live)
Zumpano - "Jeez-Louise"
A really nice long, list that encompassed a short trip to the gym and the commute to work. This particular song helped fuel part of my time on the treadmill (thanks power pop!), but also made my thoughts wander to an entirely different band: Frank Allison and the Odd Sox. If you lived in Ann Arbor in the late 80s or early 90s you know exactly who I'm talking about: Long hair, quirky, nasal voice, rocking backup band. Every once and a while I'll come across my vinyl copy of Monkey Business and it'll bring me right back to that chilly gem of a town in the Midwest. I had to find out what's up with Frank when I got to work today and it turns out he's had a bit of a wild ride: On the cusp of success, he lost his voice to something called spasmodic dysphonia
. He was forced to put down the guitar for seven years and in the meantime he bought and operated a movie theater. Then, out of the blue, he got his young daughter a ukulele. She lost interest in the instrument, but he fiddled with it and eventually re-taught himself to sing - - and then he started recording again. Take that, Behind the Music! And good for you, Frank. Anyone else out there remember Frank Allison and The Odd Sox?

N.E.R.D. - "You Know What"
Deerhoof - "Giga Dance"
The Starlight Mints - "Pages"
The Books - "Take Time"
The Mountain Goats - "Diru Lipatti's Bones"
Bright Eyes - "Down A Rabbit Hole"
Superchunk - "Marquee"
Q-Tip - "Official"
Annuals - "Track 57"
Dolorean - "Morning Watch"
Grizzly Bear - "Plans"
The Rolling Stones - "Shake Your Hips"
Colin Meloy - "The Gymnast, High Above The Ground" (live)
Elvis Costello & The Attractions - "Sittin' And Thinkin'"
The Roots - "I Will Not Apologize"
Bod Dylan - "Who Killed Davey Moore?"
De La Soul - "Change In Speak"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 19
Total minutes of music (approx.): 64
Song with the most previous plays: "Plans," "Morning Watch" (tie) - 8
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 9
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: Devised recipe for beating cold with G - - roar like a lion at top volume.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Central Booking (Day 182)

A.C. Newman - "Miracle Drug"
Devendra Banhart - "Chinese Children"
Devendra Banhart - "Queen Bee"
Fountains Of Wayne - "Janice's Party"
Kings Of Leon - "Razz"
Shuggie Otis - "Happy House"
Pavement - "The Hexx"
Yo La Tengo - "Stay Away From Heaven"
What do these two things have in common?

Umm, apparently this song. This Yo La Tengo instrumental on the Prisoners of Love compilation was evidently recorded for the soundtrack to the 2001 movie The Invisible Circus. Who knew? Although it looks like a cheesy Cameron Diaz rom-com, maybe the poster is deceiving. Per Wikipedia:
Phoebe O'Connor's California dreamin' days are done. Lost and confused in post-free love San Francisco, this headstrong flower child (played by Jordana Brewster) decides to unravel the mystery of her sister's (Cameron Diaz) suicide in Portugal. In her desperate search for answers, Phoebe is forced to face the past, as well as disturbing truths about her own future.
Okay, maybe it's not awful. I'd hope YLT would have at least read the script. If they did it for the Benjamin$ (which is also okay), it doesn't appear that it really paid off. Anyone see actually this movie?
Midlake - "You Never Arrived"
Los Lobos - "Is This All There Is?"
Bishop Allen - "Central Booking"
The Black Keys - "Black Door"
Devendra Banhart - "Insect Eyes"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13
Total minutes of music (approx.): 46
Song with the most previous plays: "Central Booking" - 14
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: G and I agreed - - our faces turned into Popsicles.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Postcards From Italy (Day 181)

Beck - "Youthless"
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - "A KIng At Night"
Blonde Redhead - "Untitled"
The White Stripes - "Icky Thump"
Iron & Wine - "On Your Wings"
Animal Collective - "Unsolved Mysteries"
It sounds like Animal Collective has made the first bid for best album of '09 - - if you believe the raves. I will remain steadfastly apprehensive. I am still a bit immune to their supposed charms. I like weird. I also like tuneful. I'm much happier when the two meet up and have coffee. That occasionally happens on this track from their 2007 album Strawberry Jam. (Much better than the celebrated Sung Tongs, if you ask me.) Hopefully this evolution means Merriweather Post Pavilion is something to get excited about. Anyone listen to it yet?
Belle & Sebastian - "Mayfly"
Billy Bragg & Wilco - "Stetson Kennedy"
Charles Mingus - "Pedal Point Blues"
Interpol - "Heinrich Maneuver"
Beirut - "Postcards From Italy"
Fuck, Italy. Here's your postcard from America. 1/20/09.

The Republic is alive and well. Wish you were here.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13
Total minutes of music (approx.): 45
Song with the most previous plays: "Postcards From Italy" - 15
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: I have a cold.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Waltzing Matilda (Day 180)

Josh Ritter - "Next To The Last Romantic"
Times New Viking - "The Statue Pt. 1"
The National - "Squalor Victoria"
David Cross - "Certain Leaders in Government Look or Act Like Certain Pop Culture Refe"
Songs: Ohia - "The Black Crow"
Norah Jones - "Wake Me Up"
Townes Van Zandt - "Talkin' Karate Blues"
Silkworm - "Don't Make Plans This Friday"
Dan Zanes - "Waltzing Matilda"
The Polyphonic Spree - "Middle Of The Day"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 11
Total minutes of music (approx.): 38
Song with the most previous plays: "Waltzing Matilda" - 11
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 6
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: The condensation from my nose breath froze on the hair of my upper lip.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Starlings Of The Slipstream (Day 179)

Colin Meloy - "On The Bus Mall" (live)
The Ponys - "We Shot The World"
Money Mark - "Black Butterfly"
Will there be a post in 2009 where I won't apologize about not posting. Yes! Starting now. The discussion is off the table. Just take what you can get, people. So what am I thinking about today? (Except for the fact that a mother fucking plane landed in the Hudson River this afternoon! Incidentally, this shot
that a guy took on his cell phone should win a Pulitzer. It's amazing.) Anyway, the subject is this: I (heart) the iPhone. No, I don't have one. But iPodWidow does and it is a pretty damn cool machine. (I'm just going to keep stating the obvious here.) So, why don't I have one. Well: A) It's expensive. B) I have a perfectly good phone (a Samsung Blackjack). C) I have an iPod with 60GB. You see, 'C' is really what's holding me back. The iPhone would be the perfect device if it was a phone, browser and, at minimum, 60GB iPod. Well, at least that's what I used to think. Do I really need 60GB? The truth is my iPod only has 45.99GB of music on it right now, after nearly 3 years of loading shit onto it. And although it's fun to have so many songs at your disposal (especially for the purpose of this blog), there is obviously some fat to trim. No better example than this song where I pause right here. Not sure what I was expecting form Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark's solo album, but it is a weird affair that I certainly don't need to tote around with me all the time, everyday. With a 32GB iPhone, I could still have a ton of songs (7,000 actually, or about 700 albums) and that super-sweet phone too. Don't be surprised to hear about an unfortunate accident happening to my cell phone one of these days...
My Morning Jacket - "Old Sept Blues"
Os Mutantes - "Senhor F"
Sebadoh - "Downmind"
Karen Dalton - "In A Station"
Micah P. Hinson - "Letter To Huntsville"
Spoon - "Small Stakes"
The Mountain Goats - "Your Belgian Things"
Vivian Girls - "I Believe In Nothing"
The Beastie Boys - "The Sounds Of Science"
Pavement - "Starlings Of The Slipstream"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 13
Total minutes of music (approx.): 42
Song with the most previous plays: "Letter To Huntsville", "Starlings Of The Slipstream" (tie) - 5
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: What's sweeter than a 3-year-old trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Santa Ana Winds (Day 178)

Dinosaur Jr - "This Is All I Came To Do"
Tobacco - "Little Pink Riding Hood"
Matthew Sweet & Susannah Hoffs - "Monday, Monday"
The Wedding Present - "Santa Ana Winds"
Full disclosure: This is Wednesday's playlist. I know, like my New Year's resolution to hit the gym, my promise to blog daily has already hit a snag. Wednesday and Thursday were hectic at work. (Layoffs didn't help. I'm fine, thanks for asking.) And then I left the iPod in the office! But rather than leave you hanging another day, here's something from the week even if it's not from "today". (It's shorter than usual due again to real-life conversation with my new commuting friend.) So, back to the music: This song comes from a 2008 album that could have at least made my honorable mentions list from the Best Albums of The Year post. But really my initial excitement about the record quickly waned. Still, good stuff. The title places this as a very L.A. record and the cover (a palm tree and neon lights) pretty much confirms it. But it dawned on me I realized I don't really know exactly what the Santa Ana winds are. Oh, Mr. Wikipedia....

The Santa Ana winds are strong, extremely dry offshore winds that characteristically sweep through in Southern California and northern Baja California in late fall into winter. They can range from hot to cold, depending on the prevailing temperatures in the source regions, the Great Basin and upper Mojave Desert. However, the winds are remembered most for the hot dry weather (often the hottest of the year) that they bring in the fall.
But, wait, there's more! These beloved winds have been featured in quite a bit of popular culture, especially music. I think this is kinda fascinating so I'm going to go ahead and show you the
list collected on Wikipedia of mentions of the winds in popular song - - from this decade alone!
  • The song "Mansfield" from Elton John's 2001 album Songs from the West Coast mentions a "California moon" and contains the lyrics "The Santa Ana winds blew warm into your room".
  • Bad Religion mentions the winds a few times, using their nickname "murder winds", "St. Anne's skirts are billowing" and the line "The fans of Santa Ana are withering" in the song "Los Angeles Is Burning" from the 2004 album The Empire Strikes First. "When the hills of Los Angeles are burning/ Palm trees are candles in the murder winds/ So many lives are on the breeze/ Even the stars are ill at ease/ And Los Angeles is burning."
  • The song "Catch My Disease" (2005) by Ben Lee has the lyrics "She told me about the winds from Santa Ana/ And that's the way I like it."
  • Danish band Mew's song "The Zookeeper's Boy" from their 2005 album And the Glass Handed Kites refers to the winds in the lyric "Santa Ana winds bring seasickness."
  • Jason Mraz's unreleased "Silent Love Song" refers to the Santa Ana winds.

All that and this Wedding Present song isn't even on the list! But here's the best bit of arcane Santa Ana wind culture I learned in the last five minutes: In Cycle 11 of America's Next Top Model featured a shoot where contestants portrayed natural disasters. Contestant Analeigh Tipton portrayed the winds. Now you know.
Nada Surf - "Blonde On Blonde" (live)
Bill Evans - "All Of You (Take 3)"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 6
Total minutes of music (approx.): 28
Song with the most previous plays: "Santa Ana Winds", "All Of You (Take 3)" (tie) - 4
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 7
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: It (and I mean Wednesday) was a horrible rainy day and G and I missed the bus.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Young Pilgrim (Day 177)

Cat Power - "Lived In Bars"
Marah - "Feather Boa"
Ida - "What Can I Do"
The New Pornographers - "July Jones"
The Flying Burrito Brothers - "Four Days Of Rain"
Robert Pollard - "Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft"
Um, yeah. I super-sized the playlist. Actually a little side trip to the barber was the real reason for all these great songs. Not to mention a stop for a great cup of coffee at - - plug alert - - Joe The Art Of Coffee. I've been meaning to check out one of the locations of this NYC coffee chain which supposedly has some great joe. It's true. The apple walnut muffin is pretty good too. Also, love the name which is why I pause here because this Pollard song has my favorite song title on today's list. Pollard can definitely rock a song title - - almost as well as he twirls a mic. Unfortunately the actual song pales in comparison to the name. It's kind of a lackluster affair from the otherwise pretty strong solo record, From A Compound Eye.
Sebadoh - "Kath"
The Beatles - "Drive My Car"
Sparklehorse - "Heart Of Darkness"
Belle & Sebastian - "Beautiful"
R.E.M. - "World Leader Pretend" (live)
TV On The Radio - "Crying"
Seu Jorge - "Rebel Rebel"
Bob Dylan - "Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues"
My Morning Jacket - "Rollin' Back"
Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy"
The Shins - "Young Pilgrim"
After getting pretty burnt out on this band (I'm look at you, Natalie Portman), I think I'm ready for a full-bore revival! This acoustic song from the great Chutes To Narrow sounded so sweet this morning. (And pretty much iced what I plan to listen to on the way home tonight.) Anybody know what's up the band? Wincing The Night Away is nearly two years old.
The Elected - "Fireflies In A Steel Mill"
Magnetic Fields - "Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long"

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 19
Total minutes of music (approx.): 75
Song with the most previous plays: "Beautiful, "Young Pilgrims" (tie) - 12
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 9
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: It had to take 2 trains and 2 buses. I think the MTA should pay me.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Night In Tunisia (Day 176)

The Polyphonic Spree - "Have A Day/Celebratory"
Ry Cooder - "Los Chucos Suaves"
Bob Dylan & The Band - "Apple Suckling Tree"
My Bloody Valentine - "Touched"
Holly Golightly - "Headstart"
Dizzy Gillespie & Charlie Parker - "A Night In Tunisia" (live)
It's 2009, y'all! I'm rested, relaxed and re
ady to kick this blog back in high gear. But just not today, of course. Not that I won't list what I listened to on my way to work today, but I won't be starting off with some kind of Earth-shattering post thanks to a short, and less-than-sweet playlist. It was one of those morning where I rode the subway with another pre-school dad post drop-off, so plugging in was out of the question. In the absence of many songs, I will throw up an addendum to my last post featuring my favorite albums. I have two more that could have easily made that list. The first is one I just plain forgot until Comoprozac reminded me by picking it as his #3 album of the year - - Port O'Brien's All We Could Do Was Sing. CP was right, if you're not tapping your toes 0:38 into the first song, "I Woke Up Today," you have no pulse. The second album is one I just fell in love with over the New Year's break. I was perusing NPR's year-end music blogs and on the Top 10 Great Unknowns list I heard this: Blind Pilot's 3 Rounds And A Sound. Oh. My. It's a couple of dudes from Portland making some beautiful sounds. Check it out here.

And then I got to work.

Today's Stats
Total songs listened to: 6
Total minutes of music (approx.): 17
Song with the most previous plays: "A Night In Tunisia" - 7
How I Rate Today's Playlist (1-10): 5
Miscellaneous factoid about my trip to work today: My daughter walked the entire way to the bus stop this AM and then told me she can't wait to tell Mommy. Ditto.