It’s one more random than 10!
1. “Narc,” Interpol. They make even break up songs sound so fashionable, like here... The couple sits at a New York restaurant with no less than a 28 score in the Zagat guide. His yearning heart beats beneath an exquisitely tailored virgin wool suit ($895 from Hugo Boss). He reaches across the table, pleading, the candlelight glinting off his TAG Heuer Carrera Automatic Chronograph ($2,695), her Christmas gift to him that she so adorably called a "watch." She cries but remains firm in her decision, her mascara tears disappearing into her black silk stretch cocktail dress, ($365 from Nicole Miller) until she reaches into her Hobo International Double-Frame clutch ($98) for a tissue.
2. “Chicago,” Sufjan Stevens. The album art actually spells out Illinoise. When I was in college, I once made a mix tape called Illin’ Noize. This is why Sufjan Stevens is famous and I am not. Side note: I have an uncontrollable attraction to songs filled with regret.
3. “A Pair of Brown Eyes,” The Pogues. This is from an album with one of my favorite titles, Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash. A beautiful song dampened, as many Irish songs are, with Jameson tears. Bonus points for Shane MacGowan’s surprisingly clear enunciation.
4. “California,” Semisonic. If you’re looking for a good music-related beach read, pick up So You Want To Be a Rock and Roll Star by Jacob Slichter, Semisonic’s drummer. It’s a smart, funny look at the career of a one-hit wonder that deserved better.
5. “Come in Alone,” My Bloody Valentine. The record that the staff at Pitchfork would love to marry (they named it their #1 album of the 90s). Personally, while I like it and certainly don’t mind having dinner with it, the relationship ends at the doorstep. It just has too many distortion issues for me to get involved long term.
6. “Charmless Man,” Blur. I wish I could sing with a thick English accent without seeming like an affected cobag. What’s funny is, while this song is very English, the whole spoiled cad caricature paints a perfect picture of every American teen/sex/romantic comedy antagonist.
7. “Teclo,” P.J. Harvey. I like the punky assault of her Rid of Me album a little better, but this song and everything else from To Bring You My Love really showcases her voice. Nobody howls quite like she does.
8. “Leave Me (Like You Found Me)” Wilco. Wilco is that friend you love to run into, the guy who won’t do you wrong. Like you’re at Whole Foods, and he says, You should really try the kiwis, they’re delicious right now. You cut yourself a slice and, sure enough, it’s pretty damn good kiwi fruit that you wouldn't have thought to buy without the recommendation. This is from the new album, which is nice and sweet and very much in season.
9. “Back to the Old House,” The Smiths. Is anyone surprised that Morrissey doesn’t want to go back to the old house? Is there a bizarro version of him in some other dimension, singing about how excited he is to go back to the old house, and how happy that the object of his affection has moved on to a happier, more well-adjusted relationship?
10) “Cinnamon Girl,” Neil Young. He’s accomplished a million things over his career, but one of the biggest things I think any rock musician can do is write the classic riff everyone knows and loves. My foot starts tapping the second this song starts.
11) “When the Levee Breaks,” Led Zeppelin. A great way to head into the weekend. Jimmy Page and John Bonham are just perfect on the chorus, with Page playing that shiny riff and Bonham adding some thick fills that are a great contrast to the metronome beat of the verses. It’s one of those parts that you wish would go on for a long time, but would be ruined if it did.
Bonus video: I may start adding one of these each week. Last week's Hall&Oates abomination reminded me of the most unintentionally hilarious video I've ever seen, Manowar's "Gloves of Metal." (It takes about 15 seconds to start.) For those of you who haven't heard of them (and that would be many of you), their biggest distinction is that they are (or were) the loudest band ever, according to the Guiness Book of World Records. The other distinction is that they are 100% dead serious. This is no Spinal Tap tribute or tongue-in-cheek performance. The fur boots and spiked gloves are for reals. The song is horribly hilarious, but if it annoys you too much, skip to around 3:20 when Manowar attack the villagers. Oh yes, there's melee combat!
Have a great weekend.