David Gray – White Ladder

8 04 2013

When I was in college, David Gray was rather mainstream, but I considered myself to be above all that in my indie universe. It wasn’t  until later that I learned to appreciate him, after all the mainstream fans had moved on to the next thing.

White Ladder is an unappreciated classic. The songs stick with you, bury inside your head, and won’t let you go. It sounds a little dated due to a very specific kind of folk-rock sound of the late 90s, but the themes and feelings are universally appealing. I also love the Soft Cell cover (Say Hello Wave Goodbye), which closes the album brilliantly. David really makes it his own.

The 1999 version of me would be surprised to hear this. But it’s lasted like I wouldn’t have expected it to.

The White Stripes – White Blood Cells

7 04 2013

Throughout college, I had always heard how great the White Stripes were from all my indie-music-loving-brethren. To this day, I’ve never listened to their first 2 albums, but White Blood Cells and their followups were the soundtrack to my 20s.

Particularly White Blood Cells – which came out just as I left college and entered the big, bad, real world. I loved the rawness, and the fact that Jack and Meg seemed to want to do things their way, which might or might not be the “right” way for rock stars to behave.  White Blood Cells sounds old, but also respectful to all those that came before.

I’ve always thought I’m Finding it Hard to be a Gentleman was a pretty dirty song no one knows is dirty – what else could “every single girl needs help
climbing up a tree” mean?


2012 in review

30 12 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 66,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Liz Phair – Whip-Smart

25 12 2012

OK, OK, so Whip-Smart isn’t as world-changing as Exile in Guyville. It’s still a really badass album and just a lot of fun. The straightforward BJ queen is still here, but I love the new girl who just gets funky and takes chances vocally because she’s gotten better at it. I didn’t own this album until I got into Exile in Guyville a couple of years ago. I’d heard many of the songs though, since it was such a big deal when it came out.

I’m embarrassed to note that I didn’t know the “Double Dutch” breakdown in Whip-Smart was a cover of Malcolm McLaren until everyone was revisiting his music in the wake of his death in 2010.

James – Whiplash

20 12 2012

The idea behind Whiplash is very obviously that society needs less TV and more Jesus (an idea expressed by the album cover as well as the lyrics). It’s pretty much a hybrid of Wah-Wah and Laid musically. Lots of mellow meditative experiments, but also catchy songs like She’s a Star and Tomorrow.

Pondering the title, I wonder – does it mean whiplash like the car-accident injury? Does it mean actually being on the receiving end of a whip? Does it mean we as a society enjoy being sadists? Or masochists? Or both?

The Wilderness of Manitoba – When You Left The Fire

30 10 2012

I found out of about The Wilderness of Manitoba through an e-friend (I’ve never met her) named Dorothy. She kept mentioning them on Facebook, so I thought I’d check them out.

They’re a lot like Fleet Foxes, if Fleet Foxes had some female singers. They definitely inhabit a world with a lot of ethereal folkie landscapes (the “Wilderness” in their name is fitting) and eerie slide guitar. There’re also a couple instrumentals or nearly-instrumentals that take me to distant planets. Or Canada.

If you like Fleet Foxes or similar bands, I recommend it!


Flake Music – When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return

23 10 2012

Listened: Thursday July 26

It’s a lost Shins album! Woody informed me of the existence of When You Land Here, It’s Time to Return and I’m glad he did. If you like Oh Inverted World, you’ll like this.

The album art is very fitting – it’s what the music sounds like. The name Flake Music is a little odd though, since the music is definitely not flaky.

A.A. Bondy – When The Devil’s Loose

21 10 2012

Listened: Friday July 13

I bought When The Devil’s Loose ages ago when I first discovered $5 albums through Amazon, but I hadn’t listened to it until the project. It’s a great album; you’ll be singing along to the pretty acoustic-pop numbers by the second listen.

I know nothing about the band at all, but for all those years I had my iTunes music sorted by artist (it’s now sorted by album name, in deference to the ongoing project), this album was always at the front of the cover flow. Therefore, even though I hadn’t listened to it much, the name and the cover is really familiar to me. I guess those AAA Towing people in the phonebook know what they’re doing!

Jens Lekman – “When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog”

24 09 2012

Listened: Thursday July 12

I can’t help but be reminded of Iggy Pop’s famous song Now I Wanna Be Your Dog when I hear the title of Jens Lekman’s When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog. Despite the music being nothing like Iggy Pop, I presume it’s an intentional reference. Jens claims in song that “When I said I wanted to be your dog, I wasn’t coming on to you, I just wanted to lick your face.” I don’t believe him!

I’ve definitely compared Jens to Morrissey before, but there are songs here that cement my confidence it’s a good comparison. Romanticism, dramatics, and irony entwine like a perfectly woven lyrical braid.

My favorites are “They all fall for me – psychogirls. They are drawn to me, mysteriously. I don’t know why… If I’d be your psychologist, who would be the psychologist’s psychologist?” and “In church on Sunday making out in front of the preacher. You had a black shirt on with a big picture of Nietzsche. When we had done our thing for a full Christian hour, I had made up my mind that there must be a higher power.”

I hope Jens stays self-effacing in his later years!



Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?

28 07 2012

Listened: Sunday July 1

(What’s The Story) Morning Glory is one of the most important modern albums of my high school life. It came out when I was 16, and it was just everywhere. I remember very clearly celebrating my friend Alma’s 16th birthday in the basement rec room of her apartment building, with Morning Glory as the soundtrack. I think there were other albums we played, but I only specifically remember Morning Glory.

I also remember my friends and I singing “You’re my Van-Der-Waals” to the tune of Wonderwall to GT Macway in AP Chemistry class (why I remember us singing to him specifically, I’m not sure, we may have sung it to others as well). Yes, we were big nerds.

For all of Oasis’ bullshit at the time and since, this album is unequivocally filled with amazing, classic songs. I sing along with no shame to every single one. However, the two untitled snippets were bizarre then and I still find it bizarre they released an album with just samples of two songs on it so that you would buy the singles to get the real tracks. I’m glad that wasn’t a trend that caught on.

Before the project, I hadn’t listened to Morning Glory very much since college. However, several years ago during a Rock Band binge at a friend’s place in Santa Barbara, the wives and girlfriends played Don’t Look Back in Anger together just as the men were returning to the house. I couldn’t help singing along at the top of my voice, even though I wasn’t the one with the microphone (I was drumming). I was caught up remembering my high school years by singing along to such a fun song. I hope Jen, the person officially singing, didn’t mind. I was just enjoying myself and wasn’t trying to compete with her, but I don’t know if she knew that.

Despite the entreaties of the band not to, I kinda did put my “life in the hands of a rock and roll band”. Who am I kidding? I’ve done it so many times.