It's one more random than 10!
Sweet fancy Moses, has it been almost a month since I’ve done this? Sorry for the light posting over the last few weeks. Between moving and vacation and trying to keep up with work between those two things, I’ve been stretched in 20 different directions the last month. But now I’m settled in and ready to rock!
The beauty of working at home is that now I can play my tunes as loud as I want. Which is usually not real loud, since I am working and have to devote at least half of my brain to that pursuit. However, I have a pretty nice set of Klipsch PC speakers with a punchy subwoofer in my home office, so I can go to 11 when needed. And for those of you who missed it, TLB has a nice picture of the view out of my home office.
1) “Four Horseman,” The Clash. I should start every Friday with The Clash. This is a lesser song from London Calling, but just hearing Joe Strummer picks me up. He could be raging about a grocery list and still get me going: Eggs and bacon and blue-ber-ries! I need you to pick ‘em all up puh-lease!
2) “It’s too Bad,” The Jam. What’s all this then? Is me iPod feelin’ a bit English this morning? I’ve sung the praises of The Jam before, and I’ll say it again: along with The Clash, they were the best band to come out of the UK punk scene. They figured out that you can’t stay stuck in three-chord monte for an entire career (otherwise you turn into The Ramones), but that you can channel your inner, spitting 18-year-old even when you learn how to play well and write terrific songs. Like “Four Horseman,” this isn’t A-list Jam, but it has a shimmering guitar in the chorus and a good drum beat.
3) “Phenomenal Cat,” The Kinks. Blimey! Another UK song. Depending on how you look at it, this song is either about the decline of the British Empire, or about a fat, lazy cat. Either way, we haz cute UTube cat videoz with this song!
4) “Demons Are Real,” Guided by Voices. British Invasion by way of Dayton. It has one of my favorite GbV lines: Deliver this message to the one I love the most / I’ve lost all my money to a 300-pound ghost. Probably their best song under one minute (and with GbV, there are a lot of those), with a half-crazed/half-tuneful vocal from Robert Pollard.
5) “The Group Who Couldn’t Say,” Grandaddy. There’s a retro synth that sounds like a Australian didgeridoo played as a bass synth by Flock of Seagulls. I mean that as a compliment. The lyrics here are a dry and wry take on the music business, with a nice “unit shifter” reference.
6) “Don’t Make Me a Target,” Spoon. The current hot shit indie rock album du jour. Which, frankly, it deserves. A lot of indie albums, while having a lot of soul, lack the kind of craft that you used to get on the great 60s-80s rock albums, where everything in the mix is exactly where it needs to be. And the big albums today that have that craft often have so much of it, there’s no room left for soul in the mix. This is one album that really has both. Although their band name always makes me think of The Tick’s battle cry of “Spoon!” I hate my brain sometimes.
7) “The Long Black Veil (Live),” Johnny Cash. Is there any artist today of Cash’s stature who would perform at a prison? I can’t see any major musician—rock, rap, or country—pulling into a place like Folsom and delivering a performance like this.
8) “When the Pin Hits the Shell,” Drive-By Truckers. Okay, maybe the DBT would do it. This song takes a slice of melancholy, places it between two thick slices of sad, spreads on the guilt, and fries it up in a hot pan of shame. And the same God that you’re so afraid is gonna send you to hell / is the same one you’re gonna answer to when the pin hits the shell. I’m not even a big Southern rock guy and I love their music. That’s the sign of a great band in my book.
9) “No Wow,” The Kills. No joke, I bought this thinking it was The Killers. It was also my loss because The Kills do not kill—boring lo-fi garage band stuff. This song is pretty good, though, a cross between The White Stripes and early PJ Harvey. You could do worse.
10) “Bad Luck, Blue Eyes, Goodbye,” The Black Crowes. From their hugely underrated album, Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Chris Robinson the person annoys the living shit out of me, but his vocals get through my skin in a good way here. Soulful rocking and perfectly arranged so you can feel every cell of blood pumping through their hearts. Their first album really ripped off their 60s and 70s influences, but this one is a blueprint of how you can turn your influences into something fresh and remarkable.
11) “I,” Bad Brains. Now ist die time on Circle Jerk vere ve slam! Who needs caffeine on a Friday morning when you have Bad Brains? Some of their stuff is too hardcore for me, but this hits that sweet spot of fast, heavy, and raging.
That’s all for this week. Have a great weekend!