Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 1/24/09

1. "Too Much Paranoias," Devo
Yes, the shuffles are back, partly because I liked doing them, and partly to force me to start writing here again on a more regular basis. We start off as you'd expect: a thoroughly obscure track from a cult band. This is from Devo's debut album, the hideously titled Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, and it's not bad. Not exactly great, either. (My rating: ****)

2. "Yes Sir, No Sir," The Kinks
I got into the Kinks through, of all things, "Weird Al" Yankovic's Dare to Be Stupid album, on which he parodied "Lola" with "Yoda." Follow it backwards through the years, and I end up with the Kinks' masterful takedown of post-World War II Britain, Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), which features several harsh criticisms of British rule. Having been written in late '60s England, it doesn't always translate well to 21st century America, but the music still succeeds, thanks to Ray Davies's sharp ear as both songwriter and producer. (****)

3. "Scraped," Guns N' Roses
Ah, yes: Chinese Democracy. I made fun of Axl for years about the interminable construction of his fourth album, fully believing it would never be released in his lifetime. But here it is, sitting on my iPod, and I'd love to tell you about all of the good (and even great) songs it features, but the shuffle gives us "Scraped." And "Scraped" is...well, not one of the great ones. Or the good ones. Or the listenable ones. An overdubbed, overproduced, overwritten ungodly mess, this is exactly what I was afraid the album would sound like. Luckily, a lot of it doesn't, but, again -- we take what the shuffle gives us. Blech. (*)

4. "Six Blade Knife," Dire Straits
One of the joys of shuffling with an enormous library of music is the chance to hear something you haven't listened to in a while. According to iTunes, I haven't heard this since June 24th. Too damn long -- this is a quiet, haunting masterpiece. Most of the first Dire Straits record sounds an awful lot like it: beautiful guitar lines over a sparse rhythm section, Mark Knopfler whispering on top of it like he's just woken from his sleep. One of my favorite albums. (*****)

5. "Madame George," Van Morrison
Speaking of quiet, haunting and beautiful. Readers of That's When I Reach for My Revolver know in what high regard I hold Van the Man, and especially his album Astral Weeks. "Madame George" is one of the (many) highlights -- a soft, delicate piece that never stirs from its gentle pace; not going anywhere in particular and no hurry to get there. Van draws you in with his voice, of course -- there's never been another voice like that, and never will be. If you don't have Astral Weeks in your record collection (or iTunes library), I don't know what the hell you're doing with your life. (*****)

6. "Tangled up in Blue," Bob Dylan
I could say that about Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, for that matter, but I realize that his voice is something of an acquired taste. "Tangled" is one of his very best songs, and with a catalogue as deep as Dylan's, that certainly says something. I have to admit, though, that while I was delighted to hear it would be in Rock Band 2, it doesn't really work all that well. I mean, it's great for me as the singer, but everyone else has to just play the same lines over and over again. Oh well: their problem, yeah? (*****)

7. "Barry Bonds," Kanye West feat. Lil Wayne
From Graduation, Kanye's last album before losing his fucking mind and turning in a whiny Auto-Tune karaoke singer with a light show. Seriously, that new album is really quite bad. This song, though, was back when Ye still knew how to have a good time, and Lil Wayne's cameo fits in perfectly. (*****)

8. "Main Theme," Silent Hill
One of the best pieces of video game music ever composed. (*****)

9. "I Write Sins Not Tragedies," Panic! at the Disco
You know, I completely understand if you hate this song and this band. I do. So I hope you will understand if I don't. Deal? (*****)

10. "Consoler of the Lonely," The Raconteurs
I didn't give the newest Raconteurs record much of a chance, honestly, but it's surprisingly good upon further listens: unlike the debut, Jack White's side project feels for the first time like an actual band, instead of...well, Jack White's side project. Good on them. (*****)

1 comment:

  1. Howdy,
    Enjoyed your post. We follow some of the same artists at Lakin Report
    Gonna follow you and see what else you like.