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Showing posts from December, 2004

John Mayer - "Home Life"

When it comes to feeling settled, we all have a certain temperament. For many people, it can change depending on the situation, but you always hold a basic idea of what's most comfortable. As I face holiday travel tomorrow I'm reminded again how much I just like to stay home.

But I've already written about that (Jellyfish, I Wanna Stay Home). And though that's a part of Mayer's song, it's not the whole story.

The real story is the search for romantic satisfaction. God, how many songs have been written about it? I'm guessing that an objective overview of the history of pop music would prove that more songs have been written about the negative side of love than the positive side. As the Carpenters sang "the best love songs were written with a broken heart."

Mayer doesn't appear to have a broken heart in this song, though he's definitely resolute that he doesn't want one. "I refuse to believe," he sings, "that my life's g…

2004: Great Eight

Here it is, my favorite time of the musical year, that time when music obsessives everywhere condense all of the year's releases into a pocket sized list. It's our best chance to display our good taste, and make sense of the myriad of releases we inundated ourselves with.

I must admit that last year I was frustrated by how much time and perspective changed my list, so this year I'm playing it safe by only including 8 CDs. Most of the albums that made it were reviewed at some point in the year, on this very site, so I've included the review number and month so you can go back and read more if you choose. I've also included what number the CD was in my yearly buying. Yes, I keep a list.

Also, check out Richard Nelson's Top 10 at Highway 290 Revisited.

Brian Wilson - Smile

37 years later the Beach Boys' lost masterpiece finally arrives. Of course two/fifths of the original group are dead, and two/fifths more didn't participate, but it's still a triumph …

2004: The Best Of The Rest

It's end-of-the-year list time, and this year there are some extra categories designed to give props to music that didn't make the vaunted Top 10.

Guiltiest Pleasure:
Avril Lavigne - Under My Skin
I'd call a guilty pleasure something you are embarrassed to be seen purchasing, or to be caught listening to with the windows down. Luckily the Internet has made the buying anonymous, and air conditioning gives us comfort with closed windows. Avril's album is slickly produced, surprisingly un-annoying, and catchy as hell.





Best Soundtrack or Compilation:
Garden State
Any good soundtrack can stand on its own but also gives the listener that extra depth of experience if they've seen the movie. This does it perfectly; every song plays some significant part in Zach Braff's funny / sad / inspiring film.






Greatest Greatest Hits:
Carpenters - Carpenters Gold: 35th Anniversary Edition
Greatest hits collections serve two purposes. One is to properly introduce you to an artist - Jackso…

65. Mos Def - The New Danger (2004)

Sometimes (more often than I'd like, actually) I walk out of the record store with something I never expected to purchase. Such was the case a month or so ago when I went into the Electric Fetus and walked out with Mos Def's latest effort The New Danger.

A couple of nights before I'd seen Mos Def perform his new song Close Edge on the Chapelle Show. His performance was simple but unconventional. As Dave drove, Mos sat in the passenger seat and rapped, seeming for all the world like he was making it up on the spot. I was mesmerized.

Even so, I hadn't even thought about seeking out the album until someone came into the Fetus and asked about it. Anyone publicly expressing interest in an artist is always fascinating to me, and I eavesdropped as I heard the clerk say, "Yeah, you want to listen to it first? It's pretty weird." And that sold me.

Of course there's always bad weird and good weird. Luckily, this record falls into the latter category. It's a bi…

Rilo Kiley - "Portions For Foxes"

Ah, a great opening line can be a work of art, and Jenny Lewis, Rilo Kiley's singer, obviously recognizes this. Portions For Foxes begins thusly: "There's blood in my mouth 'cause I've been biting my tongue all week."

That kicks off a catchy, guitar-driven, too-realistic rumination on romance. This isn't the typical a boy-broke-my-heart story, but instead a complex confession from a girl who knows she's just using someone to satisfy her earthly desires, and has no lasting romantic interest. She hates to do it, but she has little self control because "the talking leads to touching and the touching leads to sex." Immediately this leads to regret because "then there is no mystery left." Ouch.

The chorus, then as if we didn't know, Lewis tells us in the chorus: "And it's bad news / Baby I'm bad news."

Bad girl songs are nothing new. Fiona Apple's Criminal is probably the torchbearer. Songs like that are perfec…