Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 6/24/07

1. "High and Dry," Radiohead
From The Bends, which was the last album Radiohead recorded as simply a rock band. After this, they moved into a mansion and recorded the greatest rock album of the last forty years, OK Computer, and have spent the last decade constantly reinventing themselves. Listening to this song -- which was a moderate hit -- up against the later Radiohead material is pretty jarring; it's often hard to believe that this came from the same band that would give us "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box." But there you go.

2. "The Crane Wife 3," The Decemberists
Holy cow, do I love the Decemberists. If you haven't heard them, their sound is a little hard to describe -- it's sort of alternative folk rock, a glorious indie mash-up of progressive rock and twangy folk, with lyrics that make it sound like a cut from a musical theater troupe somewhere. Each song tells a story, whether it's about a government worker in love with a spy ("The Bagman's Gambit"), a pair of star-crossed lovers ("O Valencia!"), a pirate seeking justice ("The Mariner's Revenge Song," one of the greatest songs I've ever heard), or this one -- an old Japanese folk tale about a poor man overcome and undone by his own greed. Consider this my weekly "If you haven't heard this band, get off your ass and do it now!" entry.

3. "Guerrilla Radio," Rage Against the Machine
This is my favorite Rage song. I remember how awed I was by the lyrics when I first heard the track during the election season of 2000: "More for Gore, or the son of a drug lord?/None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord!" Unfortunately, this song was from their last studio effort (not counting their album of covers), and the group disbanded. Too bad.

4. "Make Your Own Kind of Music," Mama Cass Elliot
Okay, I can explain this one: it's a Lost thing. This song has been used several times in the show, almost always in connection to Desmond. So I downloaded it. It's a pretty catchy tune. And by the way, Mama Cass didn't choke to death on a ham sandwich. Just to try to put that rumor to bed.

5. "Time of the Season (live)," Dave Matthews Band
Dave probably would have been better suited for this Zombies cover about ten years ago. But the constant touring has not been kind to his voice, and it clearly struggles with the high-pitched vocal required here. But it's worth listening to for Butch Taylor's beautiful organ solo. Butch!

6. "Your Star," Evanescence
Man, I just want to give Amy Lee a hug. She sounds so lonely: "I can't see your star/The mechanical lights of Lisbon frightened it away/And I'm alone now/Me, and all I stood for." Between this and the asshole she wrote "Call Me When You're Sober" about, I think she just needs someone to talk to. You can talk to me, Amy. I'm a good listener.

7. "Woman," Wolfmother
This guys can go fuck themselves. I used to really like this song -- the lyrics are painfully dumb, but it's got a phenomenal galloping riff and a great old-school feel. Then I tried to pass it on Guitar Hero II, on Expert difficulty. 20 tries later, I managed it, and I never want to hear the song again. Damn you, Wolfmother!

8. "Love Affair," Regina Spektor
One of Regina's more idiosyncratic lyrics: "He was perfect, except for the fact that he was an engineer/And mothers prefer doctors and lawyers." A little piece of sublime piano pop. Man, she's a great singer.

9. "Red Vines," Aimee Mann
Paul Thomas Anderson wrote the script for Magnolia after hearing one of Aimee Mann's songs. He later scored the film with her material, and even included a montage where each of the characters sang along with "Wise Up." The process works both ways: after working with Anderson so closely on the movie, she wrote this song about him. And it's not exactly an exercise in flattery: "Everybody loves you -- why should they not?/And I'm the only one who knows/That Disneyland's about to close/I don't suppose you'd give it a shot/Knowing that all you've got are cigarettes and red vines." Knowing Anderson, he probably prefers it that way.

10. "Enemius Sleepus," Green Day
I have relived this song so many, many times in my life. "I saw my friend the other day/And I don't know exactly just what he became/It goes to show/It wasn't long ago that I was just like you/And now I think I'm sick, and I wanna go home." I run into people I knew in high school, and after five minutes of conversation, I'm left wondering why I was ever friends with them to begin with. "Any port in a storm," I suppose.

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