Sunday, July 08, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 7/8/07

1. "The Scientist [live]," Aimee Mann
As cheesy and commercial Coldplay's music is, "The Scientist" remains a great pop song. Aimee's cover -- included on the bonus track that accompanied her masterpiece, Lost in Space -- is a very good version, switching keys and giving it a slightly different vibe, but Aimee's voice just doesn't work as well with this tune, especially live, where it becomes even more unfortunately nasal. Lost in Space is a unbelievably good album, though.

2. "The Ghost of Tom Joad," Rage Against the Machine
Apparently, it's covers week. This was written and originally performed by Bruce Springsteen; Rage performed it for their final studio release, Renegades, an eclectic collection of covers. If you've ever wanted to hear Rage Against the Machine perform songs by Devo or Bob Dylan, this is the record for you. (Actually, it's not half bad.)

3. "Making Flippy Floppy [live]," Talking Heads
From the album version of the best concert film ever made. Though I've sworn up and down that Revolver is not based on real life, the little tiny bits seem to be -- case in point, Angela's frustration at not finding DVD copies of Stop Making Sense anywhere. I can't find them, either. Next episode: Patrick can't find his keys!

4. "Windowsill," Arcade Fire
Okay, it's time for this week's indie rock go-get-it speech. Canada's Arcade Fire is one of the best bands working today. Imagine Modest Mouse's oddball approach to instrumentation, with the raw intensity of Tool and the epic feel of a Metallica concert. They don't sound like any of those bands, not even remotely, but it's impossible to describe what they do sound like. They're simply great. This track is from their newest record, Neon Bible, which is phenomenal, but the first album you should find is their 2005 release, Funeral, which is one of the best albums ever recorded. Seriously. Go!

5. "Annie," Our Lady Peace
OLP -- yet another of my precious Canadian bands -- is an interesting case in artistic integrity. They released a couple of albums in the late '90s, most notably Clumsy, the title track from which was a huge hit. Then they released their follow-up, Happiness Is Not a Fish You Can Catch, and with that title you can tell how artsy and unorthodox it was. It's a brilliant album, one of my favorites, but it wasn't nearly as successful as the previous record, and the next release did even worse -- Spiritual Machines, a concept album based on a book about sentient computers, sold very badly, even in Canada. So their guitarist quit, they hooked up with Bob Rock, and released a slick, mainstream, overproduced pop album in Gravity. And hey -- massive international success! This song, though, is from Happiness, and it's a good one. If you like watery guitars, a warbling vocalist who jumps into falsetto even more than the Coldplay guy, and oblique lyrics like "running away from the breast of your busy, giant healing machine," go get it. If you can find it.

6. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" The Beatles
This rough-and-dirty song, from the white album, is not among the best Beatles songs ever recorded. It's one of Paul's, and John hated it. Not because it was bad, but because it was an obvious aping of his own writing style -- it's crude, it's simple, it's very rhythmic. Paul never denied that it was written like a Lennon song, because he would have sounded like an idiot; at this point in the Beatles' history, Paul seemed pathologically incapable of writing a song that wasn't a take-off on another style of music. Listen to the white album, and watch as Paul runs roughshod over every genre or artist he can get his hands on: the Beach Boys ("Back in the U.S.S.R."), reggae ("Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"), Bob Dylan ("Rocky Racoon"), old school music hall stuff ("Honey Pie"), and even the Who ("Helter Skelter"). Of course, all of those songs are awesome, so I'm not complaining. I'm just sayin'.

7. "Roses," Kanye West
Last Registration is a masterpiece of modern hip-hop, filled with phenomenal track after phenomenal track, with only a few dull spots. This is one of them.

8. "Crippled Inside," John Lennon
From Imagine, universally considered his best solo work. It's pretty clear that John annihilated Paul when it comes to their solo careers. Lennon has the entirety of Imagine, which is flawless (including the scathing "How Do You Sleep?", an absolutely blistering attack on Paul), plus several other classic songs; Paul has..."Live and Let Die"? "Band on the Run"?

9. "Slime Creatures from Outer Space," "Weird Al" Yankovic
Al decides to mock Thomas Dolby, the guy who did "She Blinded Me with Science." It's not a bad track, though it isn't particularly funny -- the only chuckle it elicits comes from the lyric "I hope they don't come in here/I just shampooed the rug!"

10. "Hang on to This," Days of the New
DOTN is on the New Album Just Any Day Now list, along with Guns N' Roses, Metallica and the Dave Matthews Band. Travis Meeks is out of rehab and touring -- including a performance at Scout Bar, which I missed. Dammit! This is from their (his?) most recent album, from back in 2001.

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