Category: Hardiman


For the week of 10/14/2013…

“Baby Blue” by Badfinger

This classic tune gained new resonance a couple of weeks ago for those of us who watched the finale of Breaking Bad.

Guess I got what I deserve…

For the week of 9/30/2013…

“Bound 2” by Kanye West

For my money, the closing track from Kanye West’s “anti-pop album,” Yeezus, is actually one of his most successful efforts.  “Bound 2” stands apart from the rest of the album, eschewing a harsh industrial sound and angry lyrics in favor of an old-school soul sample and a simple romantic theme.  The interpolation of a recurring sample of the intro from Brenda Lee’s “Sweet Nothin’s,” in particular, contributes to the relatively old-fashioned feel here.  But “Bound 2” differs from Kanye’s early, College Dropout-era soul-sampling efforts, because, in this track, Kanye isn’t trying to force himself into a conventional style of rapping.  It’s no secret that Kanye, whatever his merits as a producer, has always been relatively weak as an MC.  In “Bound 2,” at least, he isn’t forcing himself to adopt an unnatural flow or rhyme scheme.  He just does his thing, and no, it isn’t the greatest rapping performance, but it feels very authentic.  This is something that Kanye has grown into over the years, and its combination with a simple soul sample makes for a near-ideal Kanye track to my ears.  Just close your eyes and pretend it isn’t about Kim Kardashian….

For the week of 10/6/2013…

“Last Day of Magic” by the Kills

If you don’t know the Kills, you may know singer Alison Mosshart as the lead singer from Jack White’s other other side project, the Dead Weather.  This bracing selection is a highlight from the Kills’ quite good 2008 album, Midnight Boom.  Few songs unfold as perfectly as “Last Day of Magic.”

For the week of 9/23/2013…

“Vienna” by Ultravox

From their 1980 album of the same name.  What a song, and what a vocal performance from Midge Ure.

For the week of 9/16/2013…

“The Comedians” by Roy Orbison

This song was written by Elvis Costello for Roy Orbison’s final album, Mystery Girl, released in 1989 about two months after the singer’s death.  It’s a great example of dark, emotional storytelling, delivered by one of the greatest male singing voices of the 20th century.  The chorus gives me chills.

For the week of 9/9/2013…

“Shrine” by the Dambuilders

An excellent alt-rock single from 1992 which was a minor radio hit then, but has since been lost to the sands of time.  A worthy addition to rock’s long record of tender romantic beginnings and youthful pining.

For the week of 9/2/2013…

“Darts of Pleasure” by Franz Ferdinand

Obviously, we took a summer vacation of a few months’ duration from blogging.  Now September is here and it’s time to get the party started again…

For the week of 5/27/2013…

“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” by George Thorogood & the Destroyers

As I worked outside in 90-degree heat this week, George Thorogood’s version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” revealed itself to be excellent hot-weather music.  Thorogood takes John Lee Hooker’s song and expands it past the eight-minute mark by combining it with a yarn about trying to get away with neither paying his rent nor making any substantive attempt to do so.  It adds a lot more meat to a song that was kind of threadbare in terms of lyrical content, event though very little actually happens in the story.  It’s a neat trick that similarly elevates other songs like “Stagger Lee” (for example, listen to one of Mississippi John Hurt’s versions).

As Mike can attest, Thorogood’s version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” did not disappoint when we saw him live in Montclair over spring break.

For the week of 5/20/2013…

“Borrowed Time” by Parquet Courts

I bought Parquet Courts’ debut album, Light Up Gold, in January and haven’t stopped listening to it since.  I’ll be writing more about it later, but for now it will suffice for me to say that you are missing out if you haven’t checked it out.  Here’s some rock ‘n’ roll music that truly feels alive to me,  perfectly capturing the dirty energy of proto-punk.

For the week of 5/13/2013…

“Sail to the Sun” by Wavves

Wavves’ latest album, Afraid of Heights, is a pop-punk record, in the early-to-mid-’90s sense of the term.  It’s derivative of Green Day, Weezer, and Nirvana, certainly, but it’s a lot of fun.  While I’ve devoted much of my music listening this week to the excellent new Vampire Weekend album, “Sail to the Sun” and a few other Wavves tracks have certainly garnered a number of plays in the car.

Anyway, here’s the music video, in which a hypocritical priest leaves work and embarks on a night of sin and debauchery.  Not the best music video, honestly, but the song makes up for it.

For the week of 5/6/2013…

“How Are You?” by Cheap Trick

Since Cheap Trick are perhaps the biggest ELO fans ever to become equally famous, it’s never surprising to come across a song of theirs with a clear Jeff Lynne influence.  Among the best such songs is the upbeat “How Are You?” which is a quite brilliant pastiche of the styles of ELO, the Beatles, and Billy Joel.  The bridge in “A Day in the Life” (Paul McCartney’s part) serves as the clearest individual reference point.  Cheap Trick pull these elements together with a vaudevillian glee (and throws in a self-referential “I want you to want me”), really making it all their own to wrap up their 1978 record Heaven Tonight (except for a brief hidden track).

P.S.  Looks like Amazon is selling the golden age Cheap Trick albums for about $5 apiece.  Might be the prime time to snap up some Cheap Trick CDs…