Archive for March, 2012


I Want You – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce covering Bob Dylan

I’m Going Down – Vampire Weekend

A somber tune for somber lyrics


For the week of 3/26/2012…

“Orange Ball-Peen Hammer” by Mudhoney

This is a track from Mudhoney’s 1995 album My Brother the Cow, which, in my opinion, is one of the best grunge albums recorded in the period after Kurt Cobain’s suicide.  (Speaking of which, check out “Into Yer Shtik,” from the same album, which is a thinly veiled diss aimed at Courtney Love – and a pretty damn good song to boot!)

Anyway, back to “Orange Ball-Peen Hammer.”  It’s difficult to explain why I like this particular little-known Mudhoney song  so much.  The music really appeals to me; maybe it’s the presence of the harmonica or the fuzzy, bending guitar.  And the lyrics?  First of all, note the allusion to Led Zepp’s “Lemon Song” in the second verse.  (This is not the only song on the album which includes such references.  “Crankcase Blues” invokes a Howlin’ Wolf classic, while “1995” is in its entirety a love letter to the Stooges.)  Secondly, it’s worth noting that the title of  song is apparently an homage to “Orange Claw Hammer,” a bizarro 1969 poem/shanty by Captain Beefheart; however, this track is far more musical than that one, and the lyrics here aren’t avant-garde (or whatever), they’re just downright goofy.

Fortunately, I’m an unpretentious kind of guy, and lyrics like these are right up my alley.  Yeah, Mark Arm, sing it!  “A day without orange juice is like a night in jail,” indeed!



So, I’m sitting here alone on a Saturday night, everyone’s busy either seeing concerts or having sex, literally, so that means it’s time for some new music!

Here goes:

Funny The Way It Is – Dave Matthews Band

I swear to God that even though I like this I’m not a hipster…

December 2011:

“Jane’s Well” by The Rangers

“The Rangers,” if I remember correctly, are actually comprised of just one guy who plays all the instruments in their recorded music.  Anyway, this is from “Pan Am Stories,” his/their 2011 album of trippy, psychedelic lo-fi guitar music.  Almost all of the tracks are instrumentals, and it’s a good thing because I don’t like the weird-sounding vocals on the songs that have them.  I get sucked into the more gorgeous instrumentals on the album — like “Jane’s Well,” “John Is the Last of a Dying Breed,” and “Luncheon Ghana”. In fact, I liked “Jane’s Well” enough to include it in one of my mixes (bridging the Meat Puppets’ “Up on the Sun” and the Arcade Fire’s “Sprawl II”).

January 2012:

“In India You” by The Brian Jonestown Massacre

In 1996, the BJM released an album entitled “Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request.”  The whole thing was an homage to the Rolling Stones’ (in)famous stab at psychedelia, “Their Satanic Majesties’ Request,” which was itself recorded in order to keep pace with the “Sgt. Pepper’s”-era Beatles.  Listening to the whole BJM album, which is a whopping one hour and 13 minutes long, can get to be a bit much (unless perhaps if you’re very high throughout).  However, there are several very good songs on the record which are worth listening to, high or sober.  Among these:  “Anemone,” “Miss June ’75,” and “In India You,” the last of which is almost humorously faithful to late-’60s psychedelic rock.

February 2012:

“Medal Around Your Neck” by Sparrow & the Workshop

This indie rock band, hailing from Glasgow, is pretty obscure, but they also happen to be pretty damn good.  At least, I think they are, and so do two different reviewers who work for Drowned in Sound (see here and here).  This is a band that writes songs that are simply cool to listen to, especially in terms of the interplay between the instruments; I like to listen their songs repeatedly to hear what each musician is doing.  The lead singer, Jill O’Sullivan, is one of the few female rock singers I can enjoy listening to.

March 2012:

“Four Score and Seven” by Titus Andronicus

Who wouldn’t love a concept album about moving from New Jersey to Boston, drinking, discontent, Bruce Springsteen, and the Civil War? Seriously though, these guys are great on record and they were great when we saw them on Sunday night. I daresay they’re the best indie rock band in New Jersey.  (Listen to this loud.)

Week of 2/27/2012:

“This River Is Wild” by The Killers

From their second album, “Sam’s Town,” which I still listen to in the car routinely, despite the fact that pretty much every music critic panned it and called it a sophomore slump. Essentially, the criticism is that they tried to write songs aping Bruce Springsteen and U2 and ended up with something kind of corny. But the thing is, I love listening to most every song on the album and I revel in the corny parts (like the ridiculous Springsteen-esque outro on this track). Anyway, this particular song is the the first song in a great album-closing trifecta; next is “Why Do I Keep Counting?” and “Exitlude.” If you don’t have the album already, download it and listen to the last three songs in succession. Pretty rad, right?

Week of 3/5/2012:

“Gods Will Be Gods” by Echo & the Bunnymen

From their album “Porcupine,” a.k.a. the one before “Ocean Rain.” I just got this album, thanks to an Amazon gift card I got for Christmas, and this is one of the songs on it that I really cannot stop listening to. Everything about this song is cool…the lyrics, the interplay between the instruments, the way the song builds — cool, cool, cool.

Week of 3/12/2012:

“You Got the Fever” by Joe Jackson

This was the B-side of “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” It’s pretty unusual for a New Wave song to feature a harmonica solo!

Week of 3/19/2012:

“I’m Goin’ Down” by Bruce Springsteen

I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of this song (which, by the way, is best listened to in the car with the volume cranked way up). I love Clarence Clemons’ saxophone solo here; it isn’t very technically difficult, but it’s got that certain great, undefinable quality to it. What’s the word for it? Oh yeah: Soul.

Week of 1/30/2012:

“Bound Away” by CAKE

This one was on their long-awaited sixth album, “Showroom of Compassion,” which was released in 2011.  I didn’t particularly like the song at the time, but over the past year it’s really grown on me.  (Maybe hearing it performed live in Cleveland helped, or maybe I’m just more amenable to drinking songs now than I was previously.  …I should probably stop drinking so much.)

Week of 2/6/2012:

“Inner City Pressure” by Flight of the Conchords

I got the original Flight of the Conchords album shortly after it was released, and apparently that was almost four years ago now — so I’ve gotten plenty of mileage out of this CD.  This track is one of my favorites: a hilarious, well-executed ’80s parody.  Below is the full-length track as it appears on the album; to see the song with the accompanying video as it originally appeared on their TV show, go here.

Week of 2/13/2012:

“Lost at Sea” by Birdmonster

Remember this?  “Lost at sea…with all your technology, you’re still…lost at…sea.”  I listened to this album repeatedly in the car this week; it’s definitely one of my favorite releases from our high school years.  Too bad their other album was so awful.

Week of 2/20/2012

“Land Ho!” by The Doors

This is from “Morrison Hotel,” my favorite of their albums.  For best listening experience, listen to “Ship of Fools” first and this immediately thereafter, just as Jim Morrison intended.  By the way, although this is only my opinion, I don’t think these songs sound particularly dated.  (Country Joe & the Fish, on the other hand…)

Week of 1/2/2012:

“Teengenerate” by The Dictators

“The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!” is a very funny album, but the songs are good enough that I’m able to keep coming back to them.  Of course, most people didn’t get the humor in 1975, and that might still be true today, unfortunately.  (Although having your lead singer drunkenly sing “I Got You Babe” as a duet with a guy named Handsome Dick Manitoba, for example, isn’t exactly subtle…)  In any case, if you like “Teengenerate,” you’ll probably like all nine of the tracks on “Go Girl Crazy!” — and indeed, if you have even a passing interest in ’70s punk, this is definitely an album that you should own.

Week of 1/9/2012

“Rock & Roll” by The Velvet Underground

Lou Reed has written some really inaccessible songs, especially when collaborating with John Cale, but he sure can write great pop/rock songs as well.  “Loaded” really was loaded with hits, or at least it should have been.  Maybe if Lou sang lead on “New Age” instead of Doug Yule?

Week of 1/16/2012

“Hidden Charms” by Howlin’ Wolf

Howlin’ Wolf is one of my favorite bluesmen, but this isn’t a blues song, really; in fact, I would classify it as an upbeat rock ‘n’ roll tune.  Written by Willie Dixon (Chess Records’ most prolific songwriter), the song itself is a pleasure to listen to; it’s taken to the next level by Hubert Sumlin’s absolutely smokin’ guitar solo.  Phenomenal.

Week of 1/23/2012

“Plainclothes Man” by Heatmiser

If it seems that I tend to gush about these songs of the week, there’s a good reason:  I think that they’re all great songs.  However, this song is not only my song of the week but also one of my ten favorite songs, period.  Written and sung by Elliot Smith (who split singing/songwriting duties in the band with Neil Gust), this song is sad but beautiful.  Beyond what I’ve said already, I’ll let the song speak for itself.  If you like this, the rest of the album (“Mic City Sons”) is worth a look.

Week of 12/5/2011:

“An Audience with the Devil” by Hilltop Hoods

Make sure you also listen to the “Restrung” version, which features the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, and this other version, which for lack of a better term might be called the “unplugged” version.  But first listen to the original album version:

Week of 12/12/2011:

“Searching with My Good Eye Closed” by Soundgarden

An old favorite from “Badmotorfinger,” and a good example of why Soundgarden was a cut above most other bands of their era in the songwriting department.

Week of 12/19/2011:

“Take Your Whiskey Home” by Van Halen

AllMusic describes this song as an example of David Lee Roth’s “country-blues jive fixation,” which, come to think of it, is also in evidence in a few other songs on their other Roth-era albums (e.g. “Ice Cream Man” on their first album).  But when the electric guitar kicks in here, it’s clear that Eddie is in fine form as well.  “Women and Children First” is my favorite VH album.

Week of 12/26/2011:

“Let the Mermaids Flirt with Me” by Mississippi John Hurt

From “Last Sessions,” the third of the three albums of material Hurt recorded in the 1960s, having been re-discovered at the age of seventy-something.  This is one of my favorite songs of his; the melody is beautiful, the finger-picked guitar is mesmerizing, and Hurt’s voice is as warm as ever.  Hurt also has one of the more interesting life stories of the bluesmen I’ve read about; I highly recommend both reading about him and listening to his music.

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