Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Weekly iPod Shuffle: 5/5/07

1. "Bank Job," Barenaked Ladies
This is from Barenaked Ladies Are Me, their 2006 release. Yes, the Ladies continued to release albums after "One Week." Good albums, too. And what is it with me and Canadian bands? The Ladies, the Hip, Our Lady Peace -- I'm surprised I'm not more into Rush than I am.

2. "The Hand of Friendship," Beth Kinderman
Low-fi, low-budget, super-geeky, totally indie folk rock -- yes! How low-fi and low-budget are we talking about? "The Hand of Friendship" is from her latest album, Door, written and recorded at her home and released a track at a time online this February. How super-geeky? Door is a concept album based on Farscape. Yes, Farscape. Of course, the songs are well-written enough that you wouldn't necessarily know that unless you were told, and a lack of Farscape knowledge won't stop you from digging it. Of course, it is extremely low-fi: she plays all the instruments and sings all the vocals, and it's clear that she doesn't always have time to go back and fix some iffy bits. If you don't mind the I-recorded-this-in-my-closet sound quality, though, Beth Kinderman's songs are phenomenal. I need to get on with the shuffle, but I'll get back to Beth at the end.

3. "Polythene Pam," The Beatles
Ah, the Abbey Road medley. Probably the Beatles' greatest musical achievement -- not bad for a bunch of half-songs and unfinished lyrics, huh?

4. "Stickshifts and Safetybelts," Cake
How can you not love Cake? I've talked about them at length before, but this is really one of the coolest bands of the last fifteen years. This particular track, from their album Fashion Nugget, swings their musical pendulum hard to the "country" side of their repertoire, but it's still fantastic.

5. "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," The White Stripes
"I don't get it," FRINAN likes to say of the Stripes. "Bad guitar, bad drums, bad singer = great songs." You bet, my friend. One of their better songs, and best videos.

6. "It's Not," Aimee Mann
Paul Thomas Anderson wrote the screenplay for Magnolia, one of my favorite movies, based on the songs of Aimee Mann; in turn, I've since become a huge fan of her work. This is from Lost in Space, which is probably her best album -- the special-edition double-disc version features a stellar live cover of, of all things, Coldplay's "The Scientist."

7. "Battery," Metallica
If violence, the abstract concept, could be distilled into composed music, it would sound like "Battery." This track just makes you want to bash things until they fall down and die. Which is a good thing, in case you weren't sure. Lashing out the action, returning the reaction, weak are ripped and torn away! Hypnotizing power, crushing all that cower, battery is here to stay! *smash* *crunch*

8. "Waited," Our Lady Peace
Hey, there they are. More Canadian goodness. My friend Josh used to tell me that the singer's voice on this album (Happiness...Is Not a Fish That You Can Catch -- dig that weirdo title) sounds just like Cher. It's seven years later, and I still don't hear it.

9. "Overkill," Colin Hay
This song was featured in spectacular fashion on Scrubs, complete with Colin Hay cameo. I prefer the Men at Work original song, but this version's still great. Yes, Men at Work, who did "Down Under." Colin Hay was their lead singer. Whatever happened to that guy with the teddy bear tied to his foot in the music video? Does anyone reading this even know what I'm talking about?

10. "Creep," Stone Temple Pilots
At the first concert I ever saw, Stone Temple Pilots stopped the show cold about a hour through, climbed on to a big green sofa in the middle of the stage, and played a beautiful version of this song. Constant radio repetition in the thirteen years since has kind of dulled my love for it, but it's quite the good slice of post-Nirvana alternative rock.

So, anyway: Beth Kinderman. All her music is available for free download on her website, but it might help to know where to start. If you're not interested in the Farscape concept record (which I liked a lot, and I've never seen an episode of Farscape in my life), you should download these songs and burn yourself a CD:

1. Good Intentions
2. Pangaea (New Version)
3. Blue Horizon [A song based on a character she played in Mage: The Ascension.]
4. Swallowing Me
5. The Golden Age [A song written to the challenge of writing a Top 40 song from the year 2055. She envisioned a massive alien invasion and the enslavement of humanity -- this is a song about fighting against the oppressors. Did I say she was geeky?]
6. Rogue
7. Underneath the Mask [The quintessential Kinderman song -- it's about Star Wars, which is obvious when you hear it. But it's also obvious that it's not about Star Wars at all -- she merely uses the plot framework of Return of the Jedi to explore more emotional territory.]
8. Paper Cup
9. Clear Water
10. 5 [About V for Vendetta, and the song probably hindered most by her low-fi production -- a little cleaner, and this would be a masterpiece.]
11. The Martyr
12. Drive [Inspired by the TV show Supernatural, which I've also never seen.]
13. Fuse [Inspired by an internet forum flame war. See? Geeky.]
14. Valley [Firefly. Enough said. The line "Wasn't just you that I lost in that moment/'Cause I won't meet that child now, regardless" is one of the saddest I've ever heard.]

Like I said, if you don't mind the extremely cheapo sound and hit-and-miss performances, it's really great stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Hi.

    I'm sitting here looking at this entry with my mouth kind of hanging open in astonishment. To have someone say such amazing things about my work - let alone someone I don't think I really even know - leaves me without words except "thank you, thank you, thank you, this is why I do this."

    One thing you might want to know, though: Fuse isn't actually about an Internet flamewar. It's about a jerk classmate with whom I shared a creative writing seminar in college, who was lauded and praised and fawned over for writing thinly-disguised rape fantasy porn, while I was told by my professor that I should give up creative work and become a lawyer because "your true talent lies in summarizing the works of others" (true story). At the end of the semester, when we were asked to share a piece of creative work we were proud of from the semester, I performed this song for the class and received thunderous, lengthy applause - led by the subject of the song. I've never really figured that one out.

    Beth Kinderman