It’s Saturday, and even though I was so busy yesterday I couldn't listen to 11 songs, let alone write about them, I’m at the office today, takin’ what they’re givin’ ’cause I’m workin’ for a livin’. Oh well, at least I can crank the tunes when no one is here. Listening notes while eating my lunch...
1. “I Was Thinking I Could Clean up for Christmas,” Aimee Mann. Her biggest problem is that she is consistent, which makes it easy to take her for granted. If Aimee Mann recorded under a new identity each album, people would be falling over themselves to praise each release. Instead, you get things like Pitchfork pooping out reviews that say, “Here’s yet another exemplary Aimee Mann album to add to the pile. Ho hum.” Seriously, if you try to make sense, do you automatically get disqualified from writing for Pitchfork?
2. “Surrender (Live),” Cheap Trick. Maybe my favorite song of the 70s. The studio version is good, but like everything else on At Budokan, the live version turns it up to 11. We’re all alright, we’re all alright, we’re all alright, we’re all alright!
3. “Bittersweet Symphony,” The Verve. I’ve never hated a band as much as The Rolling Stones for what those wrinkled cobagz did the The Verve: making them pay 100% of all proceeds from this song because it samples an orchestral version of “The Last Time.” Even Metallica at the height of their Napster stupidity didn’t approach the sheer pig-fucking greed of this move. “Bittersweet Symphony” is like “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” one of those songs that was played to death, yet I never tire of hearing. One of the best CDs of the 90s, too.
4. “Streets of Fire,” The New Pornographers. Pure bliss. Awesome harmony singing to start off, then thunderous drums halfway through to close the deal. Everything goes better with thunderous drumming.
5. “The Professional,” Sleater-Kinney. I’m very sad they disbanded, because they mixed it up every album while still rocking your socks off. One of those rare bands that managed to take their influences and turn them into a unique sound.
6. “Untitled #4,” Sigur Ros. From the ( ) album, which set a new bar for title and packaging pretentiousness. All the pages were blank so you could write your own liner notes. What's that spell? L-A-M-E. The music, however, is astonishing, especially this song, which is so beautiful I don’t mind being stuck inside today while it plays. If you haven’t heard these guys, imagine a group of humpback whales forming a rock band and playing the greatest concert under the sea ever.
7. “Soma,” The Strokes. They don’t deserve the amount of scorn that they have received for being hyped up by the music press, because they are a very good band. But one of my favorite quotes from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was when he yelled at them at the MTV music awards: “Hey Strokes, you’re like the Monkees with a drinking problem.” How is it that my current favorite comedian is a plastic dog puppet?
8. “Anarchy in the UK,” The Sex Pistols. While Johnny Rotten never sounded more rotten, I always thought this song was bit overrated. Maybe it’s because it seems a bit plodding, like it either needs to be faster or slower, not stuck in “3” on the gearshift. “God Save the Queen,” “Holiday in the Sun,” and especially “Pretty Vacant” get more fist pumps from me.
9. “Hearts of Oak,” Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. The best keeper of the old school punk/new wave flame today. Catchy, energetic, and political. I saw him play a few weeks ago, and while Ted himself was great, his bass player really distracted me with his Kip Winger hair. Here's Dave Lerner (on the right), here's Kip Winger. Even Kip Winger no longer has Kip Winger hair.
10. “The Fox in the Snow,” Belle and Sebastian. They put the twee in tweeder. There are times when even guitar heroes have to chill, but I just find them too...soft?...wispy?...doily-ish?
11. “Plastic Flowers on the Highway,” Drive-By Truckers. This is from their double-concept album about Lynrd Skynyrd, which sounds about as appealing as a symphonic tribute to Molly Hatchet. The Truckers pull it off spectacularly, however, and this song in particular has such a powerful sense of loss and despair. Definitely a case where the tribute outshines the inspiration.
Okay, my soup is gone, so it’s time to get back to it. Keep having a great weekend.