Sunday, September 09, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 9/9/07

1. "Falling for You," Weezer
From their best album, the underrated and little-heard masterpiece Pinkerton. It disappeared from view with the public because Rivers Cuomo decided to make a self-consciously uncommercial follow-up to the beloved "blue album" (hey, there's the Fleetwood Mac playbook again), and the result is an album buried in static, distortion and unpolished (and often off-key) vocals. Luckily, not even the raunchy sound can obscure the awesome songs beneath, and this one of the best. Some of the lyrics don't quite cohere, this being one of the tracks originally composed as part of a planned concept album based on Madame Butterfly, but it still rocks. (My rating: *****)

2. "Leave," Barenaked Ladies
All BNL albums feature Stephen Page and Ed Robertson sharing vocal duties, but Steve usually bares the brunt of the load (being the band's lead singer and all). Their US breakthrough album, Stunt, however, evens things almost equally. This is one of the songs sung by Ed, and is (allegedly) about him seeing the ghost of his deceased brother while on tour. As is the standard with the Ladies, you'd never know the song had such a dark genesis from the music itself, which is nice and shiny and features a wonderful "do do do do, do do do" sing-a-long chorus. (My rating: *****)

3. "With a Little Help from My Friends," The Beatles
On a recent episode of Storytellers, Ringo opened with a performance of this song (even though he didn't write it), saying that it had single-handedly allowed him to continue touring for forty years. And he's right -- I'd be willing to shell out for a ticket to hear Ringo sing "With a Little Help from My Friends." It's that good a song. (Rating: *****)

4. "Fight," The Tragically Hip
A grungy song about a frayed relationship. After a disagreement comes to a head, Gordie surrenders, but clears his motives first: "Do you think I bow how 'cause I think you're right, or 'cause I don't want to fight?" And while he's always been a great singer, this song features his wonderful voice especially well. (Rating: *****)

5. "White and Nerdy," "Weird Al" Yankovic
Just when I was thinking that Al was perhaps a little past his prime, he turns in this single, which became the biggest of his career. And it's one of his best parodies, turning quick phrases and funny lyrics with solid hip-hop skills. The only thing missing from his litany of nerdy touchstones (he picked up trivia mastery, Monty Python, D&D, the Renaissance Fair, bubble wrap, Wikipedia, and Star Trek) was World of Warcraft. But hey, the song is only three minutes long. (Rating: *****)

6. "Good Time (live)," Counting Crows
This is a smoky, jazzy-sounding live version that retains the unusual dynamics of the original. The verses and the choruses are both quiet and understated, but the guitar hook during the second half of the verse crashes in with a viciously distorted sound that vanishes as quickly as it arrived. Weird, but it's a great song. (Rating: ****)

7. "Am I Inside," Alice in Chains
This is from Sap, a five-track EP they released between albums. To expand their sound a little on this vaguely experimental record, they added a piano and brought in another Seattle native to sing backing vocals: Ann Wilson from Heart. If you're curious how she sounds harmonizing with Layne Staley's perpetually stoned moan, the answer can be found in your dictionary under "awesome." (Rating: *****)

8. "Mr. Blue Sky," Electric Light Orchestra
I don't know how or why this song became popular again over the last several years, but I'm not sorry it did. ELO isn't generally my cup of tea, but it's hard to dislike a song as this well-constructed and catchy as this one. It gets downright silly at the end, though. (Rating: *****)

9. "Hey Hey What Can I Do," Led Zeppelin
You know Hootie and the Blowfish covered this song? I've never heard their version, but I imagine it would be...interesting. (Rating: *****)

10. "Just Don't Give a Fuck," Eminem
I've waxed nostalgic about Em's heydey a few times before; no sense doing it again. Instead, I'll just provide some of his clever lyrics on display here: "I'm buzzin', Dirty Dozen, naughty rotten rhymer/Cursin' at you players worse than Marty Schottenheimer/You wacker than the motherfucker you bit your style from/You couldn't sell two copies if you pressed a double album....I'll diss your magazine and still won't get a weak review/I'll make your freak leave you, smell the Folgers crystals/This is a lyrical combat, gentlemen, hold your pistols/But I form like Voltron and blast you with my shoulder missiles....The looniest, spontaneous, sporadic/Impulsive thinker, compulsive drinker, addict/Half animal, half man/Dumpin' your dead body inside of a fuckin' trash can/With more holes than an afghan." Ah, the good ol' days. For some reason, though, my mom never got Eminem. Wonder why. (Rating: *****)

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