Monday, September 22, 2008

Bling Bling 2 : The Blingening

Bling Bling Part 2 : The Blingening

The title requires some explaining. Back in the day, before I started doing this mixtape thing on the internet, in public, I would arrive at my friend Ken's house with a new CD, we'd drive around, smoke cheap cigarettes and just hang.

One of my favorite mixes was called Bling Bling -- which itself was a relatively new phenomenon in rap music at the time. I found that CD and was amazed at how dated some of the stuff on it sounded, so I gave it an upgrade. For example, the Toadies had just put out their second album, Hell Below Stars Above, when I first made the original Bling Bling...

Recently, they put out their third album. It's been that long.

So, this is Part 2. I hardly ever do that, but this mix is that good.

So on with it, eh?


1. Ian Moore - The Literary Kind
2. Phantom Planet - Too Much Too Often
3. Stereo MCs - Sun
4. Toadies - So Long, Lovely Eyes
5. The Cramps - Two-Headed Sex Change
6. Katy Perry - One Of The Boys
7. Dashboard Confessional - Little Bombs
8. Descendants - ALL-O-Gistics
9. Phish - Free
10. Nada Surf - Deeper Well
11. Deftones - KimDracula
12. Gnarls Barkley - Going On
13. Guns N Roses - Garden Of Eden
14. Hot Hot Heat - Conversation
15. Ike & Tina Turner - I Want To Take You Higher
16. The Mountain Goats - How To Embrace A Swamp Creature
17. Pretty Girls Make Graves - The Teeth Collector
18. The Breeders - German Studies
19. Ol' Dirty Bastard - Lift Ya Skirt (Feat. Missy Elliott)
20. Omar Rodriguez Lopez - La Tirania De La Tradicion
21. The Apples In Stereo - Winter Must Be Cold
22. Blink182 - Stockholm Syndrome
23. Thursday - Telegraph Avenue Kiss
24. Smashing Pumpkins - Starz

I'm really really glad I have friends who want to share music with me. Without my friend Jeremy, I wouldn't have heard of Ian Moore and his elegant, literate pop music. "Literary Kind" is a more straight-forward rocker and it comes from the album To Be Loved.

Phantom Planet are a weird group. Every album they change styles so drastically, it's almost hard to recognize them. They are finding something very close to a genuine voice (though I really loved the previous incarnation, which was a Strokes-meets-Elvis-Costello blend) on Raise The Dead. A prime example is "Too Much Too Often."

"Connected" was the huge mega-hit for England's Stereo MCs in the mid-90s. Then, nothing happened. The 2005 album Paradise shows us what's been going on... not much. And that's a good thing. Jams like "Sun" don't come around from changing the formula.

As mentioned earlier in the post, the Toadies were the inspiration for bringing back Bling Bling, so it's off to the barn-burner "So Long, Lovely Eyes" from the exceptional third album No Deliverance. They bring the southern-fried rock like no other, save maybe Kings of Leon.

If you wanna talk sleazy rockabilly you really have to start with The Cramps. They've been at this a while and they show no signs of stopping. "Two-Headed Sex Change" is a Cramps template - bizarro lyrics, surf-rock-meets-punk-rock guitars and freaky vocals from 'Lux Interior. This comes from the album Look Ma! No Head!

I know by now that some people really hate Katy Perry. Most of them are just tired of "I Kissed A Girl" which is turning out to be a huge hit. Well, I enjoy it. So there. The album One Of The Boys (and, by extension, the title track, featured here) is a girl-power-pop grab-bag and I really dig it.

Wow. I haven't had Dashboard Confessional on a mix in a while. It's about time to feature another song from The Shade of Poison Trees, "Little Bombs" which would not sound out of place with DC's earlier work. Which is a compliment. After going the full-band route for two albums, they're returning to the singer/songwriter arrangements that made them a hit.

This one might turn some people off, but I love it. It's a Descendents track, but not your usual 2-minute punk blast. No, "ALL-o-Gistics" is the exploration of what they mean by "Worshippers of the Mighty ALL." And no, I don't really know what it means. But it's a funny, goofy track that shows off their sense of humor. It appears on the album -- get this -- called ALL.

People who know me, know that I have contempt for jam bands. Serious, hardcore rage. But the thing is, it's not the music that I dislike. It's the fans. So, in an effort to expose myself (and, by extension, you) to more music without prejudice, here's Phish doing "Free" from the album Billy Breathes. I'm actually digging it. Who'dathunkit?

I really need to invest in more Nada Surf albums. After hearing a bit of High/Low, which gives us the rockin' "Deeper Well" (and the one-off hit "Popular") I was hooked. It's the combination of art-rock guitars with satisfying lyrics and songs that move you to rock out. I guess I'm a sucker for it.

I don't know what happened to the Deftones. Or I should say, their fans. After releasing the critically-panned hit The White Pony, they came out with a mediocre self-titled album. People were calling them done and sorta gave up. But then, Saturday Night Wrist comes out... "KimDracula" is from that record, which balances White Pony-era experimentation with Around The Fur-era bombast.

Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo Green are Gnarls Barkley, the Wonder Twins of pop music. On "Going On," from the latest album The Odd Couple, they take the form of a neo-soul groove and Al Green vocals. A nice mix, indebted as they are with old soul music, pop records from the 60s and psychadelic music.

Since Chinese Democracy may never come out, here's a deliciously rocking cut from Guns N Roses' under-rated double-album Use Your Illusion. "Garden of Eden" is everything that is right and wrong about GNR - whip-stinging guitar licks, hyperbolic apocalyptic prose and furious production.

"No need to hesitate" opens Hot Hot Heat's "Conversation" from their last album Happiness LTD. And that's the sentiment the album seeks to bring forth - urgent and undeniable. They do that, for the most part, slowing down only a few times for dramatic effect. Moving indie pop with killer production.

Ike & Tina used to be the killer duo behind hit after hit. Here's a classic from the glory days, "I Wanna Take You Higher" from the recently-released career retrospective Proud Mary: The Best Of Ike & Tina Turner. A funky, raucous classic fueled, as usual, by Tina's incendiary vocals and Ike's wild guitars and backed by a rock-steady band.

Much like The Hold Steady, I write a lot about John Darnelle, aka The Mountain Goats. I write about his literary, bracing story-songs, about his sparse but beatiful production, about his melancholy anthems of isolation and alienation. So, I guess the only thing left to do is recommend the new album Heretic Pride and this song, "How To Embrace A Swamp Creature."

I just heard that Pretty Girls Make Graves broke up. Which is a damn shame. Their mix of riot grrl and post-punk were just my cup-o-tea. Andrea Zellner's fragile but tough voice augmented by the ringing Gang of Four / No Knife guitars guaranteed that any album they put out would be in my collection. Here's to them, with a particularly rockin' cut ("The Teeth Collector") from their second (and best) album, 2003's The New Romance. (Particularly fitting as some of the last words of the song are "This captain's ship is going down")

Say what you want, but when I was a lonely teen listening to Pixies albums, I had a huge crush on Kim Deal. I hadn't been much interested in the Breeders catalog, but I grew out of that. "German Studies" features Kim and her sister on dual German vocals and the jangly art-rock guitars everyone knows and loves. From the recent album Mountain Battles.

"Voices in my head want me to go back / pick up the guns don't take your Prozac" Such conflicts constantly arise in Old Dirty Bastard's solo work, particularly those that followed his first arrest and rehab visit. This track, "Lift Ya Skirt" released on the posthumous collection A Son Unique, features Missy Elliott and dozens of shout-outs to Wu Tung.

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, for those who are unaware, is the genius/madman guitarist behind The Mars Volta (and, before that, At The Drive-In). His solo albums tend to be even more inscrutable than his work with TMV, though I never thought that possible. This track, "La Tirania De La Tradicion" (literally, "The Tyranny of The Tradition") comes from one of a series of solo efforts Se Dice Bisonte, No B├║falo (it should be noted that, while it's a solo record, this song includes Volta bandmember Cedric Bixler-Zavala on vocals)

When you tire of spastic art-prog, might I recommend The Apples In Stereo? "Winter Must Be Cold" comes from the Fun Trick Noisemaker album, and much like that record, it's a soft dollop of psychadelia mixed with a dose of indie-punk fuzz. 

I used to be ashamed of my affinity for pop-punk albums. I would hide my MXPX Cds when friends would come over and dread should any conversation turn to blink-182. Now that I've grown up a little I see that there's nothing wrong with liking pop-punk music. A shame, then, since blink-182 has broken up. But they left us a great final album, the self-titled gem, which features brutally adult anthems like "Stockholm Syndrome" and many more.

It wasn't intentional to bury this classic Thursday track at the end of this mix, I swear. Thursday were first introduced to me as "what if Morissey joined a hardcore band?" This image fits them, since, as is evident on "Telegraph Avenue Kiss," their combination of metal-esque riffs and emotive songwriting makes them head-and-shoulders above their peers. The album A City By The Light Divided is their third and hopefully not their last. 

I still hear a lot of smack-talk going on about the latest album, Zeitgeist, by Smashing Pumpkins. I do agree with some of it -- the album is half awesome and half OK -- but haters be damned, "Starz" is a bad-ass track.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How To Self-Destruct

How To Self-Destruct
1. Patton Oswald -Married & Single
2. Morningwood - New York Girls
3. Aimee Mann - Borrowing Time
4. You Say Party! We Say Die! - The Gap (Between The Rich and The Poor)
5. Uncle Tupelo - I Got Drunk
6. Spain - Her Used-To Been
7. Son, Ambulance - Paper Snowflakes
8. Saves The Day - Because You Are No Other
9. Robert Pollard - The Killers
10. Reggie & The Full Effect - G
11. Paramore - Whoa
12. Nine Inch Nails - 1,000,000
13. Girl Talk - No Pause
14. The New Amsterdams - Hover Near Fame
15. The Fratellis - My Friend John
16. The Faint - The Geeks Were Right
17. The Eels - Lone Wolf
18. Big Wreck - Inhale
19. 16 Volt - Everyday Everything
20. Warren Zevon - Play It All Night Long
21. The Vandals - How They Getcha
22. Story Of The Year - Take Me Back
23. Boris - Rattlesnake
24. Nick Lowe - Shake That Rat
25. Sonic Youth - Plastic Sun
26. PJ Harvey - Silence
27. Dispatch - Gasoline Dreams (live version)

Get IT Here!

That's a lotta tracks!

OK, a brief joke and we're off -

Morningwood, despite their bonerific name, are a dreamy boy-girl rock combo and make some wild, trashy tunes. Their self-titled album is jammed with tracks like "New York Girls" and many many more.

I saw Ms. Aimee Mann on the now-questionable "Henry Rollins Show" doing a live version of songs from the Magnolia soundtrack (where I had first heard of her solo work) and it made me think, "Does she have a new album out?" The answer is yes. It's called @#%&*! Smilers. And "Borrowing Time" is from that very same album. As usual, it's chillingly great songwriting and briskly appropriate pop arrangements.

The sharp, bouncing electro-punk grooves of blog-ready bands can get a little wearying, but sometimes you hear one that gets it just right. You Say Party! We Say Die! is one of those bands that understands the conflicting desire to dance your ass off and to have a message. "The Gap (Between The Rich And The Poor)" comes from their debut Hit The Floor!

People around here usually lament the passing of Uncle Tupelo. And rightfully so, since they essentially created alt-country out of punk rock and country/western. This track, "I Got Drunk" comes from a recently released anthology 89/93

If you ever want to kill yourself, Spain is the music to do it to. I'm not being hyperbolic either. Put on a copy of The Blue Moods of Spain and start writing your note. "Her Used-To Been" is a slow, morphine-drip of a song with heart-stabbing lyrics and a glacier's pace.

With a reverb-drenched piano and a solid beat and some weird-out guitars, Son, Ambulance can be described as Creepy-Meets-Indie. I'd say that goes for their album Key and the song "Paper Snowflakes", too.

I've been a Saves The Day fan since their second album, Through Being Cool, basically described my life back in 1999. It goes without saying, then, that as they've evolved as artists, so has my fandom. Under The Boards, their latest, is a mix of matured pop-punk and balls-to-the-wall stompers like "Because You Are No Other."

Guided by Voices was some of the more prolific and bizarre indie rock in existence. Everyone owes something to them, from Ryan Adams to any of the latest blog bands. Robert Pollard continues to plug away at his post-GBV career, releasing 2+ albums each year and he has over 1000 songs registered to copyright giants BMI. "The Killers" comes from last year's Standard Gargoyle Decisions.

The guy behind the keyboards in The Get Up Kids set off in 2000 to write a goofy side-project, calling it Reggie & The Full Effect. There's been bizarre off-again-on-again tours, rumours and outright lies about keeping up the Reggie band. Whatever the case, Last Stop : Crappy Town, is a rather literal journey through the painful process of getting into rehab -- inosmuch that the track titles are the stops on the train leading to the rehab center.

Some call Paramore punk-lite or some variation of the phrase, trying to diminish the talents of the band as a whole and simultaneously trying to pidgeonhole Hayley Williams as "just a girl" who obviously can't really make good music. Despite all that, their album All We Know Is Falling is straight-up genius. "Woah" is a prototypical example of this.
What else can you say about industrial trail-blazer Trent Reznor and his nom-de-rock Nine Inch Nails? Little, aside to say that The Slip, the latest album, is a return to form and is well worth the money, if you choose to purchase it. You don't have to, I'm just saying, it might be worth it.

Pennsyllvania native Gregg Gillis is the master of mashing and mixing. Under the name Girl Talk, he released his album Feed The Animals on the NIN/Radiohead tip - pay for it if you can, if not, cool. Songs like "No Pause" jam dozens of samples into a pop-culture stew, mixing Missy Elliot and 80s synth poppers Nu Shooz, and many many more. Someone actually dissected the song for samples here. Dizzying.

When The Get Up Kids break up for a while, James (in Reggie) is rawking hardcore, while Matt (in New Amsterdams) is singing heart-breakers like "Hover Near Fame." The second full-band New Amsterdams album Worse For The Wear brings home that feeling with brutal lyrics and expert songwriting.

My friend Amy is usually going on and on about me being "Mr. Music", but for once, she scooped me. She handed me a copy of the first Fratellis album and I was blown away. Pub-ready rock tunes with a skilled writer at the helm and a handful of delicious hooks mark their style on their second album Here We Stand, exemplified by "My Friend John".

People are big on dissing a band when they change something. I for one am all about artists evolving and stretching and growing. It's important to me that bands like The Faint release albums like Fasciinatiion, because it shows they're breaking out of their established patterns and trying something new. Not everyone will like it, but sometimes, you'll find out "The Geeks Were Right."

The Eels seem to spend every waking moment working on ways to get their songs stuck in my head. Aside from the Beck-alike vocals, Mr. E does it again on the album Shootenany! which features "Lone Wolf" (and another favorite "Restraining Order Blues")

Old obsessions tend to grow with time. In the 90s, Big Wreck's "That Song" was a perennial favorite, because it crystalized exactly what it was like to be in love with music, which was something I was just coming into. Years later, with the help of some friends, I found their second album, The Pleasure And The Greed, which has lots of great songs like "Inhale."

I don't even know where my love for industrial music started, but few bands do it right these days. So I listen to my old 16 Volt albums and wait. If you dig old Ministry, pick up Supercool Nothing, which contains "Everyday Everything."

My new obsession lately has been Mr. Bad Example himself, Warren Zevon. A classic album from his prolific musical career, Bad Luck Streak In Dancing School, contains this gem "Play It All Night Long" wherein Warren relishes in trashing Lynyrd Skynyrd and the hicks who love them. That's not to say I don't like a little LS now and then, but he does have a point.

Two things that will never change about punk - Bad Religion will always put out hearty polemics and The Vandals will always be goofy punks with a kindergarten sense of humor. "How They Getcha'" is from their latest album, Hollywood Potato Chip, which is, according to Wikipedia , the term for "dried semen on a casting couch."

People in St. Louis are weird about bands who come from St. Louis and get a taste of fame. Suddenly, they're "not as good" and they've "sold out" and all that nonsense. Formerly Big Blue Monkey, Story Of The Year still make the same music that caught my ear on their debut EP. "Take Me Back" is from the second record they put out, aside from the live album, entitled In The Wake of Determination.

Japan has a serious noise addiction. Considering some of the best noise-rock bands are Japanese in origin, you can make the assumption that being near so many earthquakes permanently affects your need for grinding guitars and thundering bass. Boris is here to satisfy those urges.
"Rattlesnake" is the Boris template writ large - larger than life riffs and mondo distortion - and so is the rest of the album Heavy Rocks.

Two instrumental tracks in a row, can you handle that? The second is this outtake from the Nick Lowe album Jesus of Cool, recently re-issued with almost double the length. This surf-rockin' take on American pop from the 50s and 60s is swerving with its fat bass line and chunky guitars. Why he called it "Shake That Rat", I'll never know.

Another thematic two-fer on this mix, it's Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey. Why those two? The connection is mostly that they're indie artists from the 90s, who still put out albums and who originally drew me in with noisy guitars, but then mellowed out in the ensuing years. Sonic Youth drops "Plastic Sun" from Murray Street, which sticks to the noise formula, while PJ Harvey strips down to piano and atmospherics on "Silence" from White Chalk.

You see? I don't just throw things together and see what sticks! I work on this. I think about it all the time.

Anyway, the last track is another one of those "my friend told me about the band and I didn't like them at first, but now I kinda do" bands. It's Dispatch, with a live version of "Gasoline Dreams" that was from the DVD/CD combo pack of Patchwork.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Blah Blah Blah

Another week, another fun mix.

Blah Blah Blah

1. Intro - "The Promised Land"
2. Les Savy Fav - "Dishonest Don Part 2"
3. Supergrass - "Mansize Rooster"
4. Public Enemy - "Burn Hollywood Burn"
5. Tom Waits - "Gun Street Girl"
6. TV On The Radio - "The Wrong Way"
7. Alkaline Trio - "Love Love Kiss Kiss"
8. mc chris - "Never Give Up"
9. Freezepop - "Here Comes A Special Boy"
10. MXPX - "Middlename"
11. Kemuri - "Rhythm"
12. Soundgarden - "My Wave"
13. Joss Stone - "Super Duper Love (Are You Diggin' On Me?)"
14. Polyphonic Spree - "Reach For The Sun"
15. Oasis - "Cigarettes and Alcohol"
16. Arlo - "Shutterbug"
17. Switchfoot - "Ammunition"
18. Ryan Adams - "Sweet Illusions"
19. Grand National - "Drink To Moving On"
20. Our Lady Peace - "One Man Army"
21. Mates of State - "Fraud In The 80s"
22. Cex - "First For Wounds"

Oh yeah. 

Welcome back. 

An intro from Harlan Ellison's short-turned-film, "A Boy And His Dog" and we're off.

No, there is nothing wrong with your CD player/MP3 player/iTunes. That's just the stuttery jittery opening of Les Savy Fav's rollicking, Simon & Garfunkle-sampling, dyspeptic rock tune "Dishonest Don Part 2" from the equally frantic album The Cat and The Cobra (dig the awesome album art). 

Supergrass have always been the "new-age Rolling Stones" and this is sleazy rock at its best. "Mansize Rooster" (note the subtle dick joke) is featured prominently on their career-spanning album Supergrass is 10.

Ice Cube guest spots on this mid-90s Public Enemy jam, "Burn Hollywood Burn" (kinda ironic now considering Flava Flav's pseudo-celebrity and Ice Cube's kid-movie charm). Still, it's a blast of bombast from the master, Chuck D, from the incendiary album Fear Of A Black Planet.

OK, again, another entry into I Was Wrong. Two words : Tom Waits. The storytelling, the instrumentation, the delivery -- all things that I originally found distasteful, I now can't imagine not listening to. If you don't know, "Gun Street Girl" (and, hell, most of Rain Dogs) ain't a bad place to start. 

I thought, "what better way to follow up a Tom Waits song than by putting on his contemporaries?" Turns out he doesn't really have any. But TV On The Radio get close, very close, with albums like Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes and brutal, sweet sing-a-longs like "The Wrong Way." Drum machines spit out bludgeoning bass lines, guitars come and go like fever dreams and saxophones adorn the whole blessed mess.

I was holding off on putting a new Alkaline Trio song from The Agony and The Irony, because a lot of folks don't like it. I think it's a great album, but it takes some time. So here's "Love Love Kiss Kiss" a poppy grinding with a catchy chorus and dark dark lyrics. Just the way I like 'em.

I know that I'm legally bound by the Indie-Snob Union to hate all new MC Chris songs, but screw that. The entirety of MC Chris Is Dead is effing genius. Taking it back to emo-dude rapping, mixed with braggadocio-laden sex-tales (although he complains earlier on the album that he "need[s] OnStar to find the clit"). Here, on "Never Give Up," he both takes aim at haters and gives sad dudes in his audience a few nice words. 

If you know me well, you know one of my favorite webcomics in existence is "Achewood" by Chris Onstead. His literary prose, characterisation and storylines are the thing of comics legend and it's a shame he isn't bigger than he is. But! There are songwriters who write songs about his characters. This song, by electro-pop band Freezepop, sounds like it was written by (not just for) eternally-happy, hug-machine Phillipe. 

Pop-punk is my middlename. MXPX are old hats at the genre and have been putting out records on a regular basis since about 1992 and are still going. "Middlename" is from the superior Life In General, a great intro to their sound.

Japanese ska band Kemuri are just all kinds of wicked - first, they play a genre that started in Jamaica, they sing in half-English/half-Japanese and they play a kick-ass Americanized punk version of ska. True polyglot genius. "Rhythm" is the opening track to the album eMovitation.

My friend and bass player were discussing the various merits of various Seattle bands from the mid-to-late 90s and, as per usual, the conversation peaks with mentioning not Pearl Jam and Nirvana, as one continues to put out excellent albums and the other is pretty much canonized by now, but rather with Soundgarden. Somehow the move from "Rusty Chain" to "Ty Cobb" is as confusing to him as it is to me. Here is the mid-period track "My Wave" from the eternally popular SuperUnknown.

Pop/Soul ingenue Joss Stone is an enigma to me. I have no idea who she is, where she's from or what she's about. (I know a quick google would do the trick, but I'm lazy when it comes to pop singers.) But I do know this : she's got the vocal chops and the 'tude to really knock 'em dead. Trouble is, the albums tend to fall apart about midway through. Her cover of "Super Duper Love" is fantastic though. If you like it, find yourself a copy of Soul Sessions, which is great as well.

With so many members, I wonder when Polyphonic Spree stops being a band and starts being "performance art." Aside from the heavy body-count, the glorious pop songs are more than enough to keep the astute listener glued to the stereo. "Reach For The Sun" is the shortest song on The Beginning Stages Of... 

From pretty to dirty. That's the kind of transition that I like. Here's Oasis, masters of the pub song belting on the woozy "Cigarettes and Alcohol" from their first album Definitely Maybe. Note the lyric "you might as well do the white line."

Epitonic used to be my favorite resource for finding new music, but they've since kinda shut down. Which is a shame, because without them I never would have found the album Up High In The Night, which gave us "Shutterbug" by Arlo, a  jangly Pavement-meets-Weezer-circa-1993 band. With better vocal harmonies.

My friend Wes, who himself is doing quite well in the songwriting business, was the first to try to covert me to liking Switchfoot. I resisted at first, but then I found songs like "Ammunition" (from best-seller The Beautiful Letdown). I get it now, they're not 'some Christian band' - they truly rock and they have a message, but it's not about the J-man or any of that, it's just a positively-tuned one. 

I'm not one of those people that has to have EVERYTHING Ryan Adams puts out. I'm not as bad as some people I could name. But, certain albums are truly classic. The double-album Cold Roses, where "Sweet Illusions" comes from, is one of those. It's twangy, Neil Young-y and all-around pretty. 

It's interesting when you're looking for one thing and find another. My friend Ken had told me about The National, a Joy Division-biting new-wave wannabe group. I was looking for them when I found Grand National, a dance-rock band. "Drink To Moving On" is the first track on Kicking The National Habit, their debut album. Honestly, I like Grand National far better.

It's also interesting going back and listening honestly to music you just outright dismissed years ago. Breaking ourselves of the snobbery habit is hard, especially to one who was so dead-set against bands like Our Lady Peace. Well the album Happiness Is Not A Fish You Can Catch makes me regret not seeing them before they broke up. The lead singer's vocal acrobatics on songs like "One Man Army" originally turned me away from the band, but I've seen the error of my ways now. Chalk another one up to I Was Wrong. 

With the creepy album cover and cheesy keyboard sounds, I was originally wary of Mates of State. Was I listening to "Fraud In The 80s" by yet another version of Black Kids or some other blog-made band? Nope. There's more to the songs on Bring It Back than at first blush and the male-female vocal interplay is wonderfully handled. Pop music at it's most cacophonous. 

And we leave you with an instrumental from electro-jokester Cex (pronounced Sex). Taken from the second album, titled Oops I Did It Again, this is "First For Wounds" a Squarepusher by way of Swervedriver shot of morphine. 

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tank Vs. Dinosaur

First, many many apologies for slacking. I decided to take the summer off from this site.

But I'm back now. And I brought some killer tunes with me.

This one is called "Tank vs. Dinosaur" and it's just as awesome as it sounds.


Tank vs. Dinosaur

1. Cassetteboy - "From Now On"
2. Smoking Popes - "Welcome to Janesville"
3. Afghan Whigs - "Somethin' Hot"
4. Elvis Costello - "Stella Hurt"
5. Noisettes - "IWE"
6. Death Cab For Cutie - "Bixby Canyon Bridge"
7. The Weakerthans - "Aside"
8. Mad Caddies - "The Dirge"
9. James Kolchalka Superstar - "Magic Finger"
10. Beck - "Profanity Prayers"
11. Thunderbirds Are Now! - "PPL R ANMLS"
12. Earlimart - "Sounds"
13. She & Him - "This Is Not A Test"
14. Kevin Bewersdorf - "I'm Bruce Willis"
15. The Submarines - "Thorny Thicket"
16. My Morning Jacket - "Wordless Chorus"
17. Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - "Reading In Bed"
18. Scarlett Johansson - "Anywhere I Lay My Head"
19. Islands - "Creeper"
20. Hot Water Music - "Bleeder"
21. The Hold Steady - "Slapped Actress"
22. The Raconteurs - "Attention"
23. MC Hawking - "The Dozens"
24. Cassetteboy - "Duck Breath"

And, you might note, the return of commentary.

Cassetteboy is a cut-up artist out of ol' Britain who likes to make people say awful, terrible things. In this case, a news report on safety turns into horrible advice like "... In case of a fire, take the lift. Fires are safe." This comes from a very appropriately-titled album Dead Horse (as in, beating a...)

And now, the triumphant return of Chicago's Smoking Popes, heroes of mine and great songwriters all. "Welcome to Janesville" is from their comeback album Stay Down and it's a polished gem of Johnny Cash storytelling wrapped in pop-punk perfection.

Oh man. Time for gushing. I found a copy of 1965, the "final" album of legendary alt-rock band The Afghan Whigs. For $6. Brand new. So, to celebrate, here's the first song on the album, a soul-drenched rock track complete with sleazy bedroom talk, a chorus about getting high and feeling good, punchy piano lines and R&B-style backing vocals. Gloriously dirty.

And of course, my man Elvis. Not the dead one, the other one. The British Elvis. Elvis Costello. His new band The Imposters joins him on this slow-burn rock track, "Stella Hurt." The album, Momofuku, is a combo of fuzzed-out rock and guest muse Jenny Lewis from Rilo Kiley (not on this track, sadly).

You ever wonder what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs would sound like if they were from England? Wonder no more. The Noisettes are here to beat you senseless with their razor-sharp art-rock. This song, "IWE" is from the album What's The Time, Mr. Wolf? and I don't know what either one really means.

The first two tracks on Death Cab For Cutie's latest, Narrow Stairs, are very unusual. For these guys, anyway. They're filled with noise-rock endings, as in "Bixby Canyon Bridge" and then the supposed single from the album, "I Will Possess Your Heart" takes 5 minutes to get started. It's like they changed their name to Death Cab For Noise Rock. It's an amazing tranformation that surely took a lot of balls.

OK, stop me if you've heard this one before. Dude from a hardcore punk band that was all about shout-along choruses and meat-head riffs starts a new emo band. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it comes together beautifully on The Weakerthan's album The Left and Leaving, which is exemplified in songs like "Aside" where he says he's "in love with love and lousy poetry."

Horns? On my rock album? Yes. The Mad Caddies are still waiting for ska's "third wave" and hopefully they'll get their wish, since they put out kick-ass tracks like "The Dirge" on a regular basis. Keep It Going is a killer album, full of dancehall, DIY and ragga by the boatload.

You may know James Kolchalka from his amazing diary comic "American Elf" but he's also a musician. Of the funny kind. From the greatest-hits (sorta) collection Our Most Beloved, here's "Magic Finger" a loving ode to his own genitals. Sample lyric "It's my dick / it's a magic finger / pointing at all the pretty girls"

If you don't love Beck by now, either you've been out of the loop quite a while or you just don't like music. This track won't cause you to run and get his discography, but "Profanity Prayers" is the kind of fuzzy energetic track that exemplifies his 8th major-label release Modern Guilt.

Thunderbirds Are Now! What can I say about them? They have a bad-ass album Making History, they write funky fresh indie-tastic rock tracks like "PPL R ANMLS" filled with chugging bass and fiery keyboards. And yet, no one has picked up on their awesomeness. Sad.

I must have been sleeping, because Earlimart put out 4 albums since I last checked (which was the glorious Everyone Down Here). Their dynamic Elliott Smith-meets-Sonic-Youth aesthetic still hasn't changed and they're the better for it. "Sounds" is a deceptive track - starts out rock, ends mournful. Just like the album it comes from, the 2004 masterwork Tremble & Tremble.

I think I can safely say that the movie-star-turns-rock-star thing has gone too far. But, having said that, She & Him (which is actress Zooey Deschanel and multi-instrumentalist M. Ward) is effing amazing. Seriously. She sings like Jenny Lewis (also a former TV star!) and her lyrics are really really good. They say they're trying to bring back sweet AM-radio-era music and for the most part the album Volume One captures that era well.

Kevin Bewersdorf is not a rapper. Neither is his alter ego, Jeep Cherokee. But that doesn't stop him from trying his hardest to emulate and mock the crunkified modern rap sound on the genius parody "I'm Bruce Willis" off the yet-to-be-finished album Babes. The beats are cheap and goofy as are the lyrics, which include the gems "That ain't no po-po that's Carl Winslow!" and "Sneaky in the sheets / I ditch that rubber / Yipee-Kay-Ay-Muthafucka." Nothing but "Die Hard" references and generic thuggery. About the 3 minute mark, the script gets flipped. Kevin pulls out the vocoder and laments John McClane's fate ("Oh John, will you ever show your pain?") Genius.

Man, I can't get enough pop music. Cheery, happy, cheesy; I want it all. The Submarines are a fantastic pop group, a boy-girl duo with chops to spare. The album, Honeysuckle Weeks, is a sugary confection that in the end does stick with you, with songs like "The Thorney Thicket".

It's time for another edition of I Was Wrong. When people lauded My Morning Jacket for their debut album, I skoffed. What do those fools know? I made the mistake of lumping them in with Drive-By Truckers and Kings of Leon - bands with which they share a background, not a sound. I laughed when the enigmatically-titled follow-up, Z, landed on a slew of Best Of lists back in 2005. Well, let me say that I was very very very wrong. Here's "Wordless Chorus" as consolation. Oh and the newest album Evil Urges is awesome, too.

You may know Emily Haines from her awesome keyboard/lead singer skills with Metric. But her album with The Soft Skeleton, Knives Don't Have Your Back is more subdued and pretty than one would expect. The lyrics are brutal in their honesty and directness ("with all the luck you had / why are your songs so sad?" from "Reading In Bed") and the spare arrangements of the songs drive it all home. Pretty music for the heartbroken.

On paper it sounds like a disaster. Get the guy from TV On The Radio, have him produce Scarlett Johansson singing Tom Waits songs. An actress who isn't known as a good singer covering a guy who really doesn't sing produced by a guy whose albums tend to be buried in noise. Yet it works. Scarlett's album Anywhere I Lay My Head (and it's titular track) are funky bits of melancholia wrapped in her sultry voice and tied together with bits of piano and guitar. Like I said, it sounds like it should be a trainwreck, but it's actually more like an amusement park.

Honest to blog, I had no idea what the hell people were raving about when they talked about Islands' debut. Then I heard their second album, Arm's Way. I understood. I was grounded and humbled and one with everything (to borrow a phrase from Kimya Dawson). "Creeper" and the rest of the songs on that album are 80s-tinged pop burners with X-Ray Specs guitars, burbling keyboards and just enough lyrical meat to really satisfy.

They've been off-and-on for a decade plus, but Hot Water Music can't seem to quit being unruly punks. Good for them and awesome for us. From the latest B-sides compilation 'Till The Wheels Fall Off, here they are covering one of my favorite bands, Alkaline Trio, doing a wicked, violin-enhanced version of "Bleeder."

I've talked endlessly about how awesome The Hold Steady are. I've done that. I've told you about their Springstein-esque instrumentation, hard-rocking riffs, Bukowski/Burroughs lyrics and fixation with partying. I guess all that's left to tell you is this song is called "Slapped Actress" (watch for the Ben Gazarra/Gina Rowlands line) and the new album is Stay Positive.

I have a guitar addiction. Seriously. I go to meetings. But when I really need something blues-influenced and rocking, I usually reach for a White Stripes album. But Jack White's "other" band, The Raconteurs do the Stripes one better - more guitars, double the singers, add in a bass and blow it all to hell. Get Consolers Of The Lonely ASAP.

Some people think it's not funny to use Professor Steven Hawking's name to do computer-voiced gangsta-rap. I'm not one of those people. MC Hawking, which is basically just two smart guys working with Apple's text-to-speech software, is goddamned hilarious. Though "Family Guy" ran the joke into the ground, it's still a gas to me. The album is appropriately titled A Brief History of Rhyme (a riff on the real Hawking's book "A Brief History of Time")

And we bring it on back to Cassetteboy, taking the piss. This time, they've set their sights on the Crazy Frog fad that was all the rage a few years back. Using Carl from "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" and John Lennon's "Imagine."


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

# 30 : Fawn & Games

Thirty mixes! Thirty!

That's a lot.

With an average length of 1 hour 20 minutes, 30 mixes equals (lemme do the math here...) 2400 minutes of music.

That's 40 hours, just shy of two full days of music.

So, to celebrate, the last of our "scraping the bottom of the bottom of the barrel" mixes, "Fawn & Games"


1. Everclear - Normal Like You
2. The Get Up Kids - Burned Bridges
3. Tom Petty - Rhino Skin
4. The Thrills - Your Love Is Like Las Vegas
5. Fugazi - Give Me The Cure
6. Terrifying Experience - Hollis Put His Hands Around My Neck (Alt. Version)
7. Foo Fighters - Darling Nikki
8. Amanda Ghost - Dirty Mind
9. Tub Ring - The Future Was Free
10. X-Ecutioners (feat. Slug) - (Even) More Human Than Human
11. A Static Lullabye - A Sip of Wine Chased with Cyanide
12. Veruca Salt - Bodies
13. Ugly Duckling - Do Your Thing
14. Kemuri - Ito-ichinen
15. 30 Seconds To Mars - Edge Of The Earth
16. Pop Will Eat Itself - Cape Connection
17. Comets on Fire - The Bee & The Crackin' Egg
18. Books - Enjoy Your Worries, You May Never Have Them Again
19. Joakim - Teenage Kiss
20. Sifl & Olly - The Math Song

Download it here.

Ms. Direction

Ms. Direction


1. Polaris - Hey Sandy (Theme from "The Adventures of Pete & Pete")
2. Slapstick - There's A Metalhead In The Parking Lot
3. Cut Copy - Saturdays
4. 386DX - Smells Like Teen Spirit
5. Nina Gordon - One More Night
6. Clutch - Escape From The Prison Planet
7. Morphine & Apollo 440 - This Is Not A Dream
8. Link 80 - Up To The Top
9. Weezer - I Just Threw Out The Love Of My Dreams
10. MC 900 Foot Jesus - But If You Go
11. Unwritten Law - Teenage Suicide
12. Star Ghost Dog - The Only One
13. Braid - There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
14. Earlimart - We Drink On The Job
15. Erlend Oye - Every Party (Has A Winner & A Loser)
16. The Decemberists - Sporting Life
17. The Impossibles - Plan B
18. The Wildhearts - Vanilla Radio
19. Melee - Last Chance
20. Split Habit - $100 Guarantee
21. Kind of Like Spitting - Sex Ruins Everything
22. Finley Quaye - Sweet & Loving Man
23. Cornelius - Thank You For The Music

Download it here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Jesus Shaves

This mix is what happens when I cull the leftovers from the 29 mixes that are up on the site and make a brew of insane pop music, covers, soundtrack-only songs and other assorted miscellany. The title is in honor of David Sedaris, who was just in town. "Jesus Shaves" in one of his funniest essays in the book "Me Talk Pretty One Day"


Jesus Shaves

1. Intro (Bill Cosby) - Cocaine
2. Butthole Surfers - Pottery
3. Motion City Soundtrack - Pop Song '89
4. Stellastarr* - No Weather
5. 13th Floor Elevators - You're Gonna Miss Me
6. Ween - Waving My Dick In The Wind
7. Liz Phair - Uncle Alvarez
8. Razorlight - Rip It Up
9. Glitter Mini 9 - Are You Bad?
10. Pizzacato Five - Twiggy Twiggy
11. The Reunion Show - On A Scale From One to Awesome
12. Segue - Amber is horny
13. Animal Chin - Seven
14. The Beatles - Everybody's Got Something To Hide (Except For Me & My Monkey)
15. Gatsby's American Dream - Work, Lies, Sex, Love, Fear
16. Railroad Jerk - Bang The Drum
17. Extra Fancy - Violator
18. Refused - The Deadly Rhythm
19. Idlewild - Mistake Pageant
20. Segue - You voted for hoover
21. David Garza - Discoball World
22. Dan Andriano - Let The Stars Play
23. Glossary - Counterculturism
24. Milemarket - Sex Jam Two : Insect Incest
25. Ivy - Corners Of Your Mind
26. Call & Response - Rollerskate
27. The 5, 6, 7, 8's - I Walk Like Jane Mansfield
28. "Weird" Al Yankovich - Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White
29. The Left-Rights - If you figure this out, we'll suck your dick