Bryan Schumann and I talk about composing music, improvising music, and whether the classical guitar pairs better with an upright bass or an electric trumpet.
A couple of quotes from Tim Quirk’s 10 year old interview the The Onion’s AVClub that came to mind earlier this week.
I was mis-remembering them, posting them here so that happens less.
This one really changed my view of the world. There’s such a significant difference in the sound between Green Eggs… and TMJ’s
follow-up Cereal Killers – that to declare that a similar polished intention existed between both made me think. To me, this is like George Lucas saying – the Start Wars prequels are what he was aiming for when he did the original trilogy. Makes you revisit what you liked and didn’t like about the work.
“If it’s so stupid that it becomes transcendent and beautiful, or if you write something and you’re like, ‘Okay, I know I’m gonna hate this the 100th time we play it, but it’s gonna be really good for 99,’ I lean that way.”
This is something that I enjoy about Quirk’s work – knowingly, purposefully, and deliberately, with tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek exploring a cliched, trite, cheesy realm until you find the tiny bit of beautiful truth that made it a cliche in the first place.
For decades, I’ve been a fan of Tim Quirk’s lyrics. He has a way of expressing the melancholy of defeat with cutting brevity and a touch of wordplay.
‘Topless at the Arco Arena’ rolled through the iTunes this afternoon and I stopped to savor these three lines:
Some rise by sin,
Some by virtue fall,
We’re not getting anywhere at all.
- Wonderlicks’ ‘The CEO Considers His Holdings’
If you’d like to give it a listen, it’s the 12th song down in the little player. Along the way, I highly recommend ‘All Boys Want’, ‘Fear of Chicago’, ‘The King of Bad Decisions’, and ‘Everybody Loves Jenny’.
I’ve been a fan of Tim Quirk’s music for 20 years – easy. The playful melancholy in throughout his songwriting continually resonates with me. When he announced the new Wonderlick album was in the works and available for ‘name-your-price’ pre-order – I jumped on the opportunity.
When I started hearing about how successful the campaign was – I asked Tim if he’d talk about the album and the campaign for the podcast.
As he mentions in our conversation, the common theme through the 16 tracks is the exploration of an experience he first wrote about in 2002:
“I wondered what she said the next day when friends asked her how the concert was. I wondered whether the crowd had been applauding her breasts or her daring. I wondered if maybe she was a plant and had actually gotten paid for her performance. That last one was just a specific way of asking a more general question, I guess—mostly I was wondering exactly what she got out of it.” – Tim Quirk
In the 16 Topless at the Arco Arena tracks, Tim, with Jay Blumenfield, ask everyone involved what they got out of the experience.
My top 5 Wonderlick – Topless at the Arco Arena tracks:
- The Case Against Tattoos
- A Different Kind of Love
- We Run the World
- This Song is a Commerical
- Fear of Chicago
Download: Listen to Wonderlick’s Tim Quirk on Truth Through Music [36 minutes]
- Cable TV by Fol Chen
Poppy beats and seductive vocals about doing absolutely nothing. Except watching cable tv. An prime example of the oft overlooked SlackerRock genre.
- Nothing At All by Madi Diaz
Like chasing a butterflies through a field on a summer day.
- Winona by Totally Michael
A love song to Winona Ryder as sung to ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’.
- Up And Down by The Chesterfield Kings
A classic blues rock tune, recalls Lynyrd Skynard.
- Tall Green Grass by Cory Branan
Great for that picnic you have after you’re done chasing butterflies.
- 14 Arms by Crash Kings
An screamy, energizing track – perfect for getting the blood flowing on a dreary day.
- FLEX by Doomtree
It’s Doomtree. I like Doomtree.
- Crown of Age by The Ettes
I dig the sound of female-fronted punk groups, this one reminds me of Joan Jett.
- How We Exit by Gentleman Reg
Despite the horns and non-vocoder vocals, I get a poppy, electronica vibe from this.
- Strictly Game by Harlem Shakes
Made the list for the motivating, timely line: “This will be a better year”.
- Gettin’ High for Jesus by Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs
- If You Should Ever Fall On Hard Times by The Iguanas
- Dag by In Stereo (perCeptie & Kapabel)
Dorky Dutch hip hop, in the vein of Die Fantastischen Vier-esque
- Steel On Steel by J. Tillman
A big, heavy, melancholy blanket.
- Bank Song by The Johnstones
A celebration, though I get the sneaking suspicion it’s about something less than pleasant.
- My Derlirium by Ladyhawke
A highly danceable, electronica track, produced by Blondie.
- Zero Machine by Le Castle Vania
A Depeche Mode + Smashing Pumpkins mash-up, without the mash-up.
- Wake the Sun by The Matches
Play this the next time you’re walking home after singing karaoke “The Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow” into the wee hours.
- Honey, Let Me Sing You A Song by Matt Hires
I’m guessing Matt Hires opens for Jack Johnson, or enjoys causing “mix-ups”.
- Cannibal Queen by Miniature Tigers
Dorky, bouncy, pop – like Tullycraft. “I’m coming for your heart like a cannibal” wins for best song lyric of SXSW 2009.
- Down in Electric by Operahouse
Another excellent example of oft-overlooked Spy rock genre.
- Little Brass Bear by Rachel Goodrich
This song will get you dancing, the kinda feeling badly toward the signer, and then…kazoos!
- Offbeat Feeling by The Resignators
Ska. Just the way I like it; big horns, mostly angry lead vocalist, well-dressed men jumping straight up and down – but only a few inches.
- You look at me by Rokhsan
A poppy, love song that consistently gives me a big, corny smile.
- Bad Choices by Shout Out Out Out Out
I’d like to nominate this song for 2008 Financial Crisis Theme Song. It even sounds like a storms rolling in.
- Behind Me Now by The Silos
Conversely, this one’s good for 2009.
- Hologram by Ten Out of Tenn
If there’s a remake of Lost in Translation as stop-motion animation, this is on the soundtrack.
- Bag Of Hammers by Thao With The Get Down Stay Down
An un-break-up song with a bag of hammers is being used as a threat. It’s a nervous, nervous smile.
- I’ll Play What You Want by Toy Horses
If Stiff Little Fingers were poppier and happier..but not as poppy and happy as Squeeze.
- Idunno by Ungdomskulen
You know I how much I dig electronically, distorted vocals.
- Trains I Missed by Walt Wilkins
The stereotypical country song version of, ‘when god closes a door he opens a window’.
- Birds of a Feather by We Were Lovers
Sugary Sweet Vocal is protected her older brother, Bass Guitar.
- Amateur by The 757s
Another un-break-up song. This time from the guys side.
- On My Kees by Aqualung
Don’t let him back, don’t let let him back. So, did you let him back?
- Caroline by The Belleville Outfit
An fun, fun track invoking the post-Swing vibe (a la Squirrel Nut Zippers)
- You Won’t Be Able To Be Sad by The Break And Repair Method
The opening song to the next John Hughes teen production.
- Imitation of the Sky by Bryan Scary and The Shredding Tears
Sounds like all of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club wrapped into a single song.
- Still Have My Heart by Caitlin Crosby
She’s either in love with an imaginary person or she’s a stalker.
- Hail Destroyer by Cancer Bats
After years of listening through SXSW Showcasing Artists, I finally found a
ScandanavianCanadian death metal track I enjoy.
- A little wiser now by Choo Choo
I generally dig songs that happily admit historical stupidity.
- 9999 (Ways To Hate Us) by The Clutters
It’s fantastic that a group of nasal-signers found each other and started a band.
- R.I.M.L. by Codebreaker
This song might be a joke. Like an SNL skit. I’m not hip enough to know.
- Will I Stay by Colin Munroe
Colin’s pretty whiny. Thankfully the band drops such big beats it can be over looked.
- Kamikaze rock’n’roll by Dead Sexy Inc
British Invasion rock + harmonicas.
- I’m Not Crying. You’re Not Crying, are you? by Dear and the Headlights
A leisurely stroll through the woods…until you step in a beehive.
- Capture and Develop by The Details
Just under 3 minutes of longing guilt.
- That Sinking Feeling by Emma Lee
The chorus completely melts me.
- Boom! Boom! Boom! by The Everyday Visuals
Wins for best use of the title within the song.
- DARTS by FLiP
It’s in Japanese – except for the English chorus. And yes, that just confuses me more.
- Bugguts by Gavin Castleton
Reminds me of the teen car accident pop songs from the 1950′s.
- Goes Cube Song 57 by Goes Cube
A good, guitar-driven, grunge tune – like a Soundgarden or early Foo Fighters.
- C.Y.O.A. by HEARTSREVOLUTION
Female Japanese vocalist + distorting vocoder = delicious noise
- Walk Through Fire by Indian Jewelry
There might be instruments and vocals in there. Somewhere deep below the sea of distortion.
- Single Fins & Safety Pins by The Japanese Motors
A catchy, fun-lovin’ beach tune.
- Happy Birthday You by Jay Jay Pistolet
Remember Marilyn Monroe’s signing of ‘Happy Birthday’? This is opposite of that.
- Over You by Jay Nash
A sincerely sweet Country tune featuring Jim Croce’s guitar,
- Gloom Doom Buttercups by Kittens Ablaze
I’m not confident everyone in the band is playing the same song…and that’s why I dig it.
- Sushi by Kyle Andrews
A synth-pop tune reminding me of all my favorite Top 40 songs from the 1980s.
- Posidonia by La Habitacion Roja
This could be a stereotypical Latin pop tune. It still holds up to heavy rotation.
- No Generation by Lions
Like White Zombie or RAGTM without the annoying parts.
- Punch and Judy by Little Thief
Solid, simple drum, guitar, and vocal work.
- Lalita by The Love Language
Your favorite fleece jacket – as a song.
- days in universe by Maren Parusel
Maren Parusel could be singing directions from Google Maps and I’d be enthralled.
- Diseases Of Yore by MC Frontalot
If you can’t learn medical history from geekcore rap – what good is it? And I think Jonathan Coulton opens the track.
- Don’t Be On With Her by Miami Horror
Another delicious synth-pop 80s track.
- Bus Stop Lovers by My Federation
A great track for you run mix – especially if you use public transit signs as landmarks.
- Cuando, Cuando by Nina Dioz
Extra-tough Latin rap. I don’t know Spanish but I think she’s saying something about using my head as a pinata.
- Greyhound Bus by Oh Susanna
There’s a stereotypical Country song about a man with a broken down truck and a runaway dog. This might that stereotypical song for women.
- Call and Response by Or, the Whale
A couple years back there were a bunch of songs at SXSW about losing New Orleans. This one is about rebuilding the city.
- Broken Heart Land by Owen Temple
Made the list immediate after I hear the opening line: “How did your past get stuck in a pawn shop?”
- 123 Stop by The Postelles
The Monkees with dirty guitars.
- The Waves by Princeton
Maracas and disillusionment.
- I Couldn’t Make It by Randy Weeks
Lou Reed, post-Velvet Underground, and a little bit Country.
- Ornamental by Scissors for Lefty
British people get so excited sometimes.
- King Bolo by Scram C Baby
King Missile-esque storytelling with better instrument work.
- she creatures invade by The She Creatures
When GWAR finally makes that movie, the sequel will star The She Creatures.
- Slow Club by Slow Club
A great example of a SlackerRock duets.
- Hit the Wall by Song Island Revue
“I hit the wall… / I painted a road on it” is much more poetic than that tired phrase about lemons and lemonade.
- You say GOOD BYE by SpecialThanks
Japan does American female-led rock really well.
- Grass is Green by Sweet Water
I think in the 90s, this band was called, The Fall.
- Pacemaker by Teenage Bottlerocket
Can’t be the Ramones, the track is a full 2:30 minutes long,
- This Mission by This Is My Condition
A Discord Records-esque D.C. Hardcore-style track by way of Lawrence, KS.
- It’s Not Too Late by Triple Cobra
The soundtrack to “That Thing You Do” if it was about a Goth band.
- In The City by Tunnel Clones
Digable Planets-style hip hop.
- Get On With It by Val Emmich
You heard the man.
- Drown Them Out by Viva Voce
Sirens. Calling me into the rocks.
- This Is Our Perfect Crime by The Von Bondies
The 21st Century version of Skid Row’s ‘Youth Gone Wild’.
- I Go I Go I Go by Wave Machines
Comparisons can be made between this song and REM’s ‘Shiny Happy People’. Parts of them would be right.
- Safety In Numbers by The Wax Museums
Punk kids discussing recruitment tactics.
- Let Me Drive by Winter Gloves
Last year I was big on clapping, I think that’s why I included this one.
- Death or Radio by Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer
“Let’s hold hands and listen to shitty bands…” – is exactly how I imagine SXSW.
- Soft The Hard Way by 18th Dye
The chorus keeps getting stuck in my head and caught by the spam filter.
For nearly decades, I’ve been a big fan of anything by Jay Blumenfield, Tim Quirk, Sandy Smallens, or any combination thereof.
So, yea, I’m pretty excited about the new Wonderlick album available for pre-order.
Here’s the interesting bit:
Wonderlick isn’t suggesting a donation, so the average won’t be known for awhile. Pretty neat. Yeah, I gave them 50% more than I otherwise would have.
Update, according to Mr. Quirk himself:
Not only are these picks really late (SXSW was months ago) but unlike other years, none of the 700+ tracks grabbed me immediately. The overall tone felt like the ‘college rock’ of 20 years ago. Good, sometimes interesting, artistic even, but every song sounds um, the same.
As in previous years, these are track that are both new to me, struck me, and will keep me in the zone while working. This time around, inspired by J Wynia approach last year, I set up a smart playlist in iTunes that automatically removed tracks after 5 skips. The theory is that this would bias more long term listening enjoyment, rather than short term first impressions – a reverse Pepsi Challenge. I blame this approach and how iTunes counts ‘skips’1 as part of the reason this list took forever to compile.
- Obvious by Watershed
I haven’t heard this mixture of poppy, light-hearted post-punk and “I’d rather be at the bar with you than on stage” since Too Much Joy’s “Gods Make Love” or Ben Folds’ “One Down”.
- Toes by Zac Brown Band
Yes, it’s a blatant rip off of Jimmy Buffet’s “Five O’Clock Somewhere” with the working class country vibe turned to 11. The last couple lines make the song.
- Come On, Claire by Aberfeldy
The kid in Fountains of Wayne’s Stacy’s Mom is now in college…
- Juliet by Army of Freshman
…but he’s still hanging out at the mall.
- Set the Table by Screaming Cyn Cyn and The Pons
Screaming atop a very catchy, if simplistic riff. Makes Madison a much cooler town. This will either annoy you or get you dancing. Continues to do both for me.
- Everybody Knows by The Gougers
Catchy little Country tune in the vein of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi.
- The Mountain by Lucero
I’m a Lucero junky.
- So Long to the Red River Valley by The Quebe Sisters Band
Every now and again, I’m in the mood for the Western in Country & Western. This is such a great example of modernizing that sound. Reminds me of listening to The Lone Ranger and old radio dramas.
- Mean Son of a Gun by Kitty, Daisy and Lewis
The theme song to a old time radio drama about Calamity Jane
- Everyone’s Got’em by White Ghost Shivers
The jazz tune playing in a secret speakeasy right before the cops busted in.
- Cooler than Me by Ari Shine
A much hipper version of Billy Joe’s ‘Uptown Girl’
- I Wanna Be Ignored by Ezra Furman & The Harpoons
Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy.
- Electric Bird by Sia
This song is a picnic blanket in sun-filled valley.
- How Lucky We Are by Meiko
Such an optimistic song about the day after tomorrow and the person you’ve committed to join you there.
- Fascination by Correatown
The break up side of ‘How Lucky We Are’
- See and Be Seen by The Hard Lessons
This is Facebook and MySpace…put to a beat far less than annoying than either.
- All My Love for You by The Emeralds
Another great track from a typical American 3-piece garage rock band. But from a garage in Yokohama, Japan.
- Fireflies by Search/Rescue
This is the lead track from John Hughes’ next teen romantic comedy.
- Clandestine by Brooklyn
Early Beatles with a French attitude.
- Shut Up by Shellshag
This is closest I’ll get to hardcore punk these days, there’s no way I can take these guys seriously. I imagine this is what it was like to deal with me as an angst-ridden teen.
- Champagne Girls I have known by Johnny Foreigner
Yelpy, like Tullycraft with undertones of Oasis
- Only Fooling Myself by Kate Voegele
Inclusion of this song betrays that I still enjoy listening to Wilson Philips’ ‘Hold On’.
- You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie by The Submarines
This reminds me a lot of Redd Kross, if it was fronted by Aimee Mann
- 1906 by Songs for Moms
An all-woman, 3-piece, folk-punk. Had me at folk-punk.
- Balboa by Cruiserweight
I’m a sucker for Stella Maxwell’s voice.
- Oh Man! by Sybris
and for whomever’s voice this is.
- So Down by Jen Lane
Jen’s a Canadian signer-songwriter. That’s a magic combination.
- Half My Kingdon by Alina Simone
A Ukranian April March. Except she’s really Ukranian.
- Blinkandyou’llmissit! by Bo Pepper
Highly dance-able smack-down dropped by some distorted female vocals.
- Smoking Gun by The Tennessee Boltsmokers
A finger-picking discussion on the dangers of following fashion trends.
- 4th of July by Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers
A stereotypical Country song about loss, patriotism, and vans. Includes the great line, “Ever think maybe if you’re not happy it’s because of you.”
- Blue Canoe by Blue Mountain
I’ve never heard a song about going fishing in a canoe. You have? With a distorted guitar?
- Secretary’s Day by TAB the band
A great example of the blues-based, guitar-driven rock I remember as a kid.
- Stand Up by Thurogood Wordsmith
I’m very critical about hip hop rhymes. This one made the list with: “I came to clean house, kick ass, and take names / Like white Anglo-Saxons across the Great Plains.”
- Do It Again by You, Me, and Everyone We Know
If Ben Folds was backed by Blink182
- Tu Boca Lo Quita by Alex Cuba
A rocking mash-up of electric guitar, ska, steel drums, and an amazing voice.
- No Matter How Bad It Gets by The Barker Band
A poppy little tune for eating buckets of shellfish.
- Hello Friend by Cheveu
Guitars and distorted vocals. Over before reaching a climax. Like a cheap midway ride.
- Inmovil (Wrong ID) by Le Baron
A solid early-90s rock track from a typical 4-piece American indie rock band. But from Mexico.
- International Flight by Le Concorde
The theme song to a fantastic new sitcom about an American girl falling in love with a London record store owner.
- Nono by Ze Dos Frangos
I keep expecting this to be that sappy, overexposed Moldy Peaches track. It’s not. It’s Portuguese. Just that makes it better.
- Exodus Honey by Honeycut
A softer, mellower Strawberry Fields.
- Mina do condominio by Pierre Aderne
For those days when your life is a walk on the beach.
- Negative Thinking by TheDeathSet
Vocals of a cheap punk band and a crisp, jumpy, electronica beat.
- Namida Vacuum Sound by Ketchup Mania
Love song by a very, very angry Manga character.
- Morningside Heights by The Strugglers
Dirt roads, melancholy, and violins
- American Hearts by A. A. Bondy
As honest and patriotic as any Dylan, but intelligible.
- Nickels and Dimes by Scissors for Lefty
“Hey, hey, nickels and dimes are all we need to rock tonight.” Yeah!, that lines earns automatic inclusion.
- Let’s Get Crazy by Limbeck
Finally, a song with clapping. Just not enough songs with clapping in them this year.
- Dirty Blonde by Greta Gaines
One of those tracks that feels like college rock from the late ’80s.
- Julia, we don’t live in the 60s by The Indelicates
- EXTINCTION by The Muslims
Here’s a punky third.
1. Play duration longer than 2 seconds but shorter than 20 seconds. Personally, I found it can take a solid minute to find a song distracting.
In Jonathan Coulton’s Portal post, I find 6 things very interesting. He:
- was commissioned (I’m assuming) to write a song for a video game ($$$)
- likes the video game (is this an ad or a recommendation to his fans?)
- includes the lyrics in the post
- includes the chords in the post
- thanks the video game dev team
- recommends another game with a great theme song that
3.75 of them are for JC’s fans. He didn’t need to include any of them. Others haven’t and wouldn’t. This to me makes Coulton a far more interesting and fan-oriented musician than Radiohead simply removing the middleman.
Tonight, my iPod randomly pulled an almost-exactly-one-year-old Coulton/Hodgeman/Sound of Young America interview from my Unlistened Podast playlist. Quite good. Hodgeman even discusses Minnesota State Fair food.
Over the weekend, we picked up a little stuffed IKEA octopus (technically a pentapus) for C. On the drive back, I remembered of working the strawberry fields listening to the Beatles on a cassette Walkman over and over and over again (an irony I only now see). Discovering and rediscovering each album.
As I tried to recall the lyrics to Octopus’s Garden, Jen and I started talking about the best Beatles ablum. I agree with Mr. Slusher, it’s not St. Pepper.
While St. Pepper was also one of my first CDs, I think any album on either side of the Beatles discography has aged better. Off the top of my head, better albums are;
- Revolver (Good Day Sunshine, Got to Get You into My Life)
- Abbey Road (Here Comes the Sun, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window)
- White Album (Happiness is a Warm Gun, Dear Prudence)
In St. Pepper’s defense – it’s a concept album and if memory serves, everyone in the band has a different name in the liner notes. So, it could be argued that it’s not even a proper Beatles album.
Elsewhere Aug 05, 2008
Benn’s post is one of the many articles online showing how little compensation musicians receive from the business organizations that are said to be supporting them. While, it’s unfortunate that he mistakes piracy for lack of compensation, he highlights the need for an easy way to give money directly to musicians, and others who’s creative work you enjoy.
In the end, Benn admits:
“I make most of my living from licensing and composition.”
As you know, as much as I love writing this blog, I don’t make my living from it directly. I could….if you showered me with piles of PayPal donations.
Update 26 Jun 2007:
On the flip side, Dave Slusher describes an much needed aggregation and subscription service. Swap out mini-comics for local musicians or filmmakers and the same need exists.
Side note, as I read Dave’s post, I had a little deja vu. Always a good thing in my book.
I bought Tony Thomas from Minneapoliscast, Andrea Meyers from HowWasTheShow.com, and Justin Grammens from LocalTone.com, and Brian McDonough from MinnieIndie.com lunch to talk about the Minneapolis music scene.
We cover the goal of each of their sites, the challenges of finding good independent music, and Brian makes some band recommendations.
The last hold-out in the Twin Cities commercial ‘alternative’ radio dial succumbed to Love today.
Two choices remain; The Current, or some mythical online service.
But, I stuck with the format change and had the hair to prove it. Then had the same reaction when they mellowed out four years later and switched to “college” or “alternative” or “modern” or “progressive” rock.
Again, I stuck with them. And still have a cassette recording of their live broadcast of Too Much Joy in concert.
I stopped there. Not following them into Country or beyond.
10 minutes from now, I expect the FM dial to resemble the current AM dial, with AM completely abandon. Like suburbanites migrating to newer construction further out. All while iPod capacities grow exponentially.
I’ve got two trips to Chicagoland already queued up for this summer.
The first one is Saturday, May 19. When, of this writing, I’ll be spending some time on a go-cart in Buffalo Grove.
The last time I attended one of these events, I was trapped on a permanetly-docked gambling boat near Aurora after dining at a suburban Hooters.
I’m betting on a more enjoyable trip this time around.
Anyone know a good source for downloading, local, independent music. Specifically, I’m looking for Minnesota-based or MN, WI, NoDak, SoDak, IA music. Thanks
Update 27 April 2007:
I’ve Googled for answer to this question and come up with a number of local music directory projects – some clearly abandon, others just useless. All of these projects (alive or zombie) assume I know who all the musicians are.
I don’t…that’s why I’m looking.
At minimum, I’m looking for a Last.FM search or Pandora stream filtered by geography. A steady stream of recommendations – like AmigoFish for local music, not an alphabetical directory of meaningless artists names.
The future is music as ad and the future is already here. Recorded music is an ad for the live performance (always has been). Recorded music is an ad for a musicians expertise – a marketing tool to get ever more interesting projects, gigs, whatchamacallits. Same as blogging and podcasting and book writing.
Aside from that, if advertisers aren’t excited about supporting podcasts and video blogs, I can’t see them excited about supporting individual tracks.
Elsewhere: 23 April 2007
Thanks to Doug Adams’ script, Current Track to Twitter v1.5, if you follow me via Twitter you’ll get continual updates on what I’m listening to.
I’m digging Twitter as way to automatically publish in the background. I can keep my flow and we can stay connected.
I see this quality that’ll keep Twitter from being Pet Rock 2.0. If more and more people can ‘tweet’ without thinking about it (via the API, not the browser) Twitter fades into the background, like the internet itself.
When I started listening exactly 3 weeks ago, I was tossing out so many songs, I started wondering if there was anything fun and interesting in the 739 tracks. In fact, true to Sturgeon’s Law, 89% of the tracks didn’t do anything for me. Follows are the 80 tracks that, listen after listen, both pulled me in and let me keep working. According to this list, a few artists only made the BitTorrent – not the SXSW website, hence no direct mp3 links.
Streaming Playlist of 76 tracks
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- ‘Paradise’ from Ana Laan.
World – 5 stars. You know that super hip party you imagine when you say, “Yes, we entertain a lot” to a real estate agent? This song is playing in the background at that party.
- ‘Origin of Species’ from Chris Smither.
Singer-Songwriter – 5 stars. A fun, folky, finger-picking song covering a number of stories in the book of Genesis. Also, this is one of two songs referencing Katrina in the list.
- ‘Modern Love’ from The Last Town Chorus.
Pop – 5 stars. An amazingly dark and somber cover of the David Bowie classic.
- ‘What Else Would You Have Me Be?’ from Lucero.
Alt Country – 5 stars. Lucero made the cut last year as well. As soon as I heard the vocals, they made the cut – imagine Bruce Springsteen singing country.
- ‘Crush Me’ from Prisonshake.
Rock – 5 stars. It starts out a kinda slow, but gets going after the first chorus. Oh, and I’m a sucker for the scratchy, bootlegged-sounding vocals.
- ‘Jugglin Justin’ from Skratch Bastid.
Hip Hop – 5 stars. This is the best skratch-based song I’ve ever heard.
- ‘Energy’ from The Apples in Stereo.
Rock – 4 stars.
It sounds like lead singer Robert Schneider is doing a completely different song than the rest of the band. The two songs just happen to mash-up great. I like that.
- ‘Tokyo East End Rockers’ from Asakusa Jinta.
World – 4 stars. If the Squirrel Nut Zippers were’ from Japan.
- ‘Mystic Song’ from The Berg Sans Nipple.
Experimental – 4 stars. Light, floaty, – uh – mystic, track. It sounds very hip. Like there’s a million bands out there with this sound, and I’m completely out of the loop. Or there will be – and I’m so cool.
- ‘Don’t Bother Me’ from The Blakes.
Rock – 4 stars. This song acknowledges the ’90s Seattle sound, throws in some Iggy Pop, and then rocks steady.
- ‘Between the Moon and the Ocean’ from Bon Savants.
Rock – 4 stars. You had me at “You kiss like a Russian.”
- ‘Who Are You’ from Deaf in the Family.
Hip Hop – 4 stars. Heavy Who sampling with some harsh rhymes on top.
- ‘Mr. Milk’ from Errors.
Electronic – 4 stars. Electronica, like all music genres, has a push-pull relationship with its stereotype and interestingness. Mr. Milk is both.
- ‘Left Hand’ from The Gaskets.
Pop – 4 stars. “Sell me something I haven’t bought before” – damn straight. Isn’t that what we’re all asking for.
- ‘Eight Arms To Hold You’ from The Gear.
Rock – 4 stars. ‘That Thing You Do’ – sung by a spider.
- ‘Beautiful Mystery’ from Harris Tweed.
Pop – 4 stars. Yes, there’s some Jewel in this track. If Jewel could seduce by rhyming ‘float’ and ‘boat’.
- ‘War’ from Ladyhawk.
Rock – 4 stars. Come on, everyone sing along, “Don’t just go along – start a war if you want to.”
- ‘Tout va pour le mieux dans le pire des mondes’ from Les Breastfeeders.
Rock – 4 stars. I have no idea what they’re saying, but it sure sounds cool.
- ‘closer’ from Melissa Ferrick.
Rock – 4 stars. Melissa made last year’s cut as well.
- ‘Hardcore Hornography’ from Michelle Shocked.
Jazz – 4 stars. A sweet New Orleans jazz tune’ from Michelle Shocked – hitting all bases; Katrina, Gumbo, and Mardi Gras.
- ‘Touch Up’ from Mother Mother.
Pop – 4 stars. Coolest underwater song since Ringo’s Octopus’ Garden.
- ‘River of Daughters’ from The Old Soul.
Rock – 4 stars. This is a nice enough track, comfortable and listenable. I couldn’t remember why it made the cut, until….2:44 in. That little bit makes this a pretty cool song.
- ‘In The City’ from Peel.
Rock – 4 stars. In the vein of Trans Am, Peel’s vocals aren’t the highlight – just another instrument, equal to all the others.
- ‘Grain of salt…and a shot of tequila’ from Ray Herndon.
Country – 4 stars. Probably the best chorus in all stereotypical Country music. First time I heard it, I couldn’t stop laughing.
- ‘Lay Em Down’ from Rico Pabon.
Hip Hop – 4 stars. Sure, the beat is Rico Suave, but the rapping is far better.
- ‘The Girl’s Distracted’ from Saturday Looks Good To Me.
Pop – 4 stars. I vote this song for Target’s next commercial.
- ‘Self Inflicted Wounds’ from Sole.
Hip Hop – 4 stars. This track is so timely, I’m not sure how well it’ll age. Hopefully, in a year if I can’t get past the rhymes, I can still dig the clapping.
- ‘Oregon Girl’ from Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.
Pop – 4 stars. Special award for coolest name. Think Fountains of Wayne…from Missouri.
- ‘Ten Years Pass’ from Sunny Sweeney.
Country – 4 stars. Sunny’s captured the feelings of revisiting a small town for a class reunion, down to the smell.
- ‘Moving to New York’ from The WOMBATS.
Rock – 4 stars. This song has clapping in it too. I think that’s why it made the list. Oh, and Matthew Murphy’s really cool voice.
- ‘Hummer In My Hummer’ from Yuppie Pricks.
Punk – 4 stars. This is an updated version of the Dead Kennedy’s classic ‘California Über Alles‘. The similarities between these two songs is amusing enough to make this list. The Yuppie Pricks are even on Alternative Tentacles.
- ‘Drove Through Ghosts To Get Here’ from 65daysofstatic.
Experimental – 3 stars. Consider this as the alternative background music in Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell.
- ‘Bring The Good Boys Home’ from The 1900s.
Pop – 3 stars. The echoing background vocals and synthesizer grabbed me on this one.
- ‘Figure Out’ from A Cursive Memory.
Pop – 3 stars. I kept trying to figure out who they remind me of…turns out, it’s themselves. They made the list last year as well.
- ‘Think Niles Drink’ from About.
Electronic – 3 stars. Like being trapped inside a broken hard drive. In a good way.
- ‘Gonna Be Alright’ from Abram Wilson.
Jazz – 3 stars. Trumpet as lead vocals. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
- ‘The Rifle’ from Alela Diane.
Singer-Songwriter – 3 stars. There’s something unsettling about impending death being sung about so calmly.
- ‘Heaven Is For Easy Girls ‘ from The Awkward Stage.
Rock – 3 stars. I’m trying not to listen too carefully about the lyrics. Just bounce to the beat and clap along.
- ‘Shine In Exile’ from Beat the Devil.
Experimental – 3 stars. If a Bond movie was ever placed in the future – this is the background song to the first martini.
- ‘HeavyMetal’ from Bisc1.
Hip Hop – 3 stars. Feels more like Rhymesayers, MN than Brooklyn, NYC.
- ‘Must You Throw Dirt In My Face’ from Charlie Louvin.
Country – 3 stars. By the second line, you’ll either bust out laughing or give this song a big hug. Hopefully, by the end you’ll do both.
- ‘Patience’ from Damien Dempsey.
Hip Hop – 3 stars. Pissed-off Irish hip hop mixed up with gentle, affectionate R&B.
- ‘Fa-Fa-Fa’ from DATAROCK.
Rock – 3 stars. I always liked MC 900 FT Jesus’ lyrics, but never his beats. He shoulda had DATAROCK to the beats.
- ‘Story Never Gets Old’ from Death Ships.
Rock – 3 stars. A rather fortune combination of Elvis Costello, TMBG, and the Decemberists.
- ‘will to doubt’ from Delicious Food.
Experimental – 3 stars. Yes, there is such a thing as ‘New Classical’ music.
- ‘Everything’ from Dolly Varden.
Alt Country – 3 stars. Good, solid, Chicago rock. Ok, I admit, it made the list for the clapping.
- ‘KeMo Thera-P’ from E>K>U>K.
Pop – 3 stars. Dinosaur Jr.-esque guitar work with just the right amount of screaming.
- ‘Not Giving Up’ from The Femurs.
Punk – 3 stars. This track is far more 80′s British punk than ’06 Seattle, and Ramones influence is obvious.
- ‘Act 7, Scene 8′ from Going Home.
Rock – 3 stars. If Sum81 sang catchy pop tunes’ from the 60s.
- ‘Dead Fish on the Banks’ from The Goodnight Loving.
Alt Country – 3 stars. Wisconsin’s answer to Uncle Tupelo. Probably the best thing outta Milwaukee since I-94.
- ‘TV’ from Headlights.
Rock – 3 stars. Erin Fein is a siren. Her singing on this track are so faint, so elusive, the closer I listen, the further away she drifts.
- ‘Don’t Play this’ from Hera.
Singer-Songwriter – 3 stars. I dig really bad break up songs like this. So many love songs are.
- ‘Rattling My Tin Cup’ from Honeydogs.
Pop – 3 stars. Finally, the Minneapolis sound, with a hint of Elvis Constello. This song sounds as solid and experienced as the band themselves.
- ‘Westboro Baptist Church’ from I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch in the House.
Rock – 3 stars. This curse-filled song has a real simple message and a real catchy chorus. This is one of a bunch of songs in the list offering insightful critique of our current admistration.
- ‘Breakfast by the Mattress’ from Kristoffer Ragnstam.
Pop – 3 stars. This is a silly song. How Kristoffer says the title makes me giggle.
- ‘Where I Live’ from Leeroy Stagger.
Country – 3 stars. Another portrait of a town paved with broken hopes.
- ‘Pissing on the Mainframe’ from Live Fast Die.
Punk – 3 stars. If you were introduced to punk with badly-copied cassette bootlegs, this song was probably on those tapes.
- ‘Passenger 24′ from Melissa McClelland.
Singer-Songwriter – 3 stars. Noir. Bad trouble. As persistent, poetic, and pesismistic as Sin City.
- ‘Batterie’ from Omni.
Hip Hop – 3 stars. A modern day version of early Hip Hop, back when sampling wasn’t such an issue. There’s hints of early Beastie Boys and NWA in here.
- ‘Far Side of Nowhere’ from Onion Creek Crawdaddies.
Alt Country – 3 stars. The line, “don’t miss me while I’m here”, makes this one of the great good bye songs.
- ‘Miss Idaho’ from Ox (Canada).
Alt Country – 3 stars. This track is a classic, up there with Son Volt’s ‘Out of the Picture’.
- ‘Turning Colours Into Greys’ from Paper Moon.
Pop – 3 stars. This song played after the last fight with your best friend. If you starred in a very popular television sitcom.
- ‘Red Eagle’ from Paul Duncan.
Country – 3 stars. Non-stereotypical country mixed with classical.
- ‘Moving Forward’ from Protokoll.
Rock – 3 stars. Trans Am with less geekiness.
- ‘Much Farther To Go’ from Rosie Thomas.
Singer-Songwriter – 3 stars. If Simon and Garfunkel weren’t two guys, but one woman in-between hometowns.
- ‘Psalm 102′ from San Saba County.
Alt Country – 3 stars. This to me, is what a country song should sound like. Very audible finger picking and a weary, tired voice.
- ‘Don’t Believe Everything’ from Shane Bartell.
Rock – 3 stars. A great track for a Sunday brunch, or spring cleaning with the windows wide open.
- ‘let it go’ from Shannon Moore.
Pop – 3 stars. Shannon Moore’s voice, and this song especially, reminds me of my favorite Aimee Mann tracks.
- ‘Weather Machine’ from Signal To Noise.
Rock – 3 stars. Stiff Little Fingers mixed with Blink 182 and a tinge of New Jersey Bon Jovi. Good rocking beat, scratchy lead vocals, and comfortable backup vocals sounds.
- ‘Love Show’ from Skye.
Singer-Songwriter – 3 stars. Come on, I liked Dido.
- ‘Try’ from Sparkle Motion.
Punk – 3 stars. Garrick’s a sucker for all-girl punk bands. It’s as simple as that. Even if one of the girls is named Pete.
- ‘Mega Lamb’ from Tammany Hall Machine.
Rock – 3 stars. Cousteau without his morning coffee.
- ‘What We Have Is Now’ from To Live And Die In LA.
Rock – 3 stars. They used to call this ‘College Rock’.
- ‘Shattered’ from The Trucks.
Pop – 3 stars. This is a cute track. The lead voice is cute, the nostalgic 4-4 techno is cute, the angry attitude is cute. There are a couple of interesting bits in the song, but really, I included this song cause it’s cute.
- ‘Yeah Right’ from Unbusted.
Rock – 3 stars. The essence of rock and roll: three guys, a mic, a guitar, 3 chords, and a drum kit. Singing ‘Yeah Right’.
- ‘Trouble’ from Voxtrot.
Rock – 3 stars. 40 seconds in and Voxtrot had me quietly floating down the river. Sure, there’s a few rocks to dodge and in some places, you need to paddle. Totally worth it.
- ‘Jarvis Cocker’ from Washington Social Club.
Rock – 3 stars. A great dance tune about dance floor drama. Plus clapping. I dig the clapping.
- ‘Better Off This Way’ from We Are the Fury.
Rock – 3 stars. Solid Midwest rock (Toledo) with two shots of espresso.
- ‘Catching & Killing’ from Youth Group.
Rock – 3 stars. This is a real simple, comfortable track. Something I could listen to a hundred times (the goal of this culling). I quite like the lead voice.
- ‘Wipeout (Try Waking Up!)’ from Zykos.
Rock – 3 stars. How many instruments and sounds are in this track? Lots. That’s what makes it a fun listen.
True to their word, Too Much Joy never broke up – they just stopped having gigs. Until now.
Friday, May 4th
The Knitting Factory
74 Leonard Street
New York, NY
“It’s all ages. TMJ will be playing as a 5-piece, as both Sandy Smallens and William Wittman will be joining the celebration of drummer Tommy Vinton’s retirement from the NYPD after 20 years on the beat.”
Congrats to Sandy, William, Tim, Jay and especially Tommy.
Since discovering Tangerine a couple months back, I’ve been tweaking the BPM-based playlist to find the ideal collection of tunes that keeps me working without calling too much attention to themselves.
Here’s the iTunes Smart Playlist that’s been working for me for 2 weeks:
BPM - is in the range - 90 to 110
My Rating - is greater than - 2 stars
This give me 6.4 hours including tracks from; Minutemen, Mac Lethal, Brad Sucks, Transplants, The Odd Numbers, The Gentle Readers, Two Cow Garage, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, The Its, Winter Blanket, Diesel Jenny, and Tullycraft.
Like everyone else, my podcast listening (and publishing) has an inverse relationship to how busy I am at work. I’ve cut back to only the gPod – bookending the day – with music in the middle.
A couple weeks back, I found Potion Factory’s Tangerine, a great little app that generates iTunes playlist based on BPM and beat intensity and a handful of different patterns (think treadmill workout patterns).
I’ve got 5 Tangerine playlists right now – each a couple hours long with a different random selection of music that falls within specified BPM and beat intensity ranges. I’ve found it a great way to shake up my favorite tunes with others that I’ve neglected for too long.
Here’s my long-awaited conversation with Jeremy Messersmith talking about his new album, the Alcatraz Kid ($13.00 PayPal, City Pages review, Pulse review), and playing a couple of the songs of from it – two of my favorites (Day Job, Snow Day) and one of Jeremy’s (Great Times).
Jeremy and I sat down for a podcast a couple weeks back talking about his new “The Alcatrez Kid CD” ($13 Paypal). Unfortunately, life got in the way of me getting it up earlier this week.
Crap. I’m sorry. It’s coming. Watch this space.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN October 6 Fitzgerald Theater; 7PM
With Neal Pollack.
THERE WILL BE AN ADMISSION CHARGE: STAND BY