Monday, April 06, 2009

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 4/6/09

Apologies for the absence -- computer crashes and vacations stymied my output. Let the ramblings return!

Oh, and the Astros are losing in the background as I write this. Yay for baseball!

1. "G.O.D. (Good Old Days)," Fastball
I wrote about these guys in my 100 Albums feature, which I'll getting back to in a few days. Not much more I can add about this particular track, other than to say the horns are great. (Rating: ****)

2. "All Along the Watchtower," Dave Matthews Band
Interesting timing -- I'm currently midway through season three of my rewatching of Battlestar Galactica. It's somewhat telling that, unless you listened to his podcasts (which I did), you wouldn't know just by watching that Ronald D. Moore made up virtually every last thing about the show as he went along. The Opera House vision, the idenities of the Final Five, the meaning of "All Along the Watchtower" -- all of it, improvised either on the page or in the writers' room. Unlike the Cylons, they had no plan. (Hell, even the first use of "Watchtower" -- the shocking reveal that four of our protagonists were Cylon sleeper agents -- Moore made up because he thought the season three finale wasn't "surprising" enough.) But that doesn't (usually) come across in the final product. It certainly feels like there's a plan, and pretty much everything holds together in its own internal logic. Oh, yeah, the song: this live version of "Watchtower" -- from the Listener Supported set -- is neither the best nor the worst version DMB has played. (****)

3. "I Will Possess Your Heart," Death Cab for Cutie
I've since gone back and devoured the entirety of Cutie's back catalog, but this masterpiece from Narrow Stairs is still one of their best. My only quibble with Narrow Stairs, in fact, is that this song isn't the first track. It should be -- it certainly sounds like the beginning of something extraordinary. (*****)

4. "Spaceman," The Killers
Something I wish I'd snapped a photo of during our Las Vegas vacation -- just inside the doors of the Hard Rock Casino is an enormous display of the Killers' stage gear, worn and held by life-sized plastic skeletons. It's unbelievably cool. (The Killers are Vegas natives, donchaknow). This is a pretty cool song, from the otherwise disappointing Day & Age. (****)

5. "War Buddies," Harvey Danger
Sweet Jesus, Harvey Danger needs to release another album already. It's been three or four years since Little by Little..., and I desperately need a new record to play to death. This is one of Little's most impressive songs -- of course, all of Little is brilliant, so take that as you will. Seriously, go get the damn album. (*****)

6. "So What," Metallica
A crappy, barely listenable afterthought that found its way onto a single, then an EP, and then the minefield that is Garage, Inc.'s second disc. Of course, it's not exactly Metallica's fault that it's crappy and barely listenable -- it's a cover, after all -- but it is their fault for making me listen to it. (*)

7. "The District Sleeps Alone Tonight," The Postal Service
If you listen to the Postal Service and think the singer sounds an awful like the singer from Death Cab for Cutie, it's because they're one and the same. This is the opening track off of their first and only record, Give Up, and it's a surprisingly catchy blend of indie pop and electronica. (*****)

8. "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," The Beatles
One of my favorite pieces of the Abbey Road medley, inspired by an incident in which a woman actually crawled through Paul McCartney's bathroom window and swiped a few trinkets. See, groups of fans -- called Apple Scruffs -- used to literally live outside of the Beatles' various homes in England. And one of them, bored while Paul wasn't home, climbed in the window, strolled around through the house and took a few small items. Paul, being Paul, simply asked the group to give one of them back (just one), and they did. That's as surreal as it gets, isn't it? (*****)

9. "Bed of Lies," Matchbox Twenty
Rob Thomas channels his inner Phil Collins -- which I can't imagine is buried all that far down, tell the truth -- to churn out this drum-heavy rocker from his best (read: only listenable) album, 2000's Mad Season. It works surprisingly well, anchored mostly by his impressive vocal performance. Though, oddly enough, I think it actually would sound better if Phil Collins covered it. (****)

10. "Susanne," Weezer
You've probably heard this obscure Weezer oldie, as it played at the end of the Kevin Smith's Mallrats, which remains the least of the films. (What's that? I'm sorry, Jersey Girl? Never heard of it.) Shame Rivers never thought to put it on a proper Weezer record, as it's one of his best songs. Of course, I think it appeared too late for the blue album, and it would have been wildly out of place on Pinkerton. And Susanne, by the way, was a receptionist at Geffen, who took pity on Rivers and made him brownies. The more you know. (*****)

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