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Showing posts from April, 2008

12 by The Wallflowers

"12 by..." aims to summarize an artist's career in 12 songs. This one features... Underrated is a difficult word to use when you're referring to a mainstream pop band with at least two huge hits and a lead singer sired by Bob Dylan, but The Wallflowers definitely don't get enough credit. 1. " One Headlight" (from Bringing Down The Horse , 1996)  I remember hearing rumors that this was about a man who'd had a testicle removed. It's funny to listen to the lyrics with that interpretation in mind ("we can drive it home with one headlight") but I don't really buy it.  2. " 6th Avenue Heartache" (from Bringing Down The Horse , 1996)  This was huge in college thanks to the fact that we had a row of party houses on 6th Avenue. They definitely saw their share of heartache, on a nightly basis. Thankfully, I lived on 7th Avenue.  3. "The Difference" (from Bringing Down The Horse , 1996)  Rami Jaffe's organ was re

12 by Jay-Z

Here's the drill: 12 songs to summarize an artist's career, in chronological order (of course). In honor of his recent nuptials, this week we look at Jay-Z. Just so you know, I decided to focus on tracks that feature Jay-Z as the clear center of attention. I could make a completely different list of his guest appearances. Stay tuned on that... I also avoided his big hits, for the most part. I don't think they're truly representative of his abilities or sensibilities. Finally, instead of offering my usual pithy commentary, I'm going to let the man speak for himself.   1. " Can't Knock The Hustle" (from Reasonable Doubt , 1996)  "I got extensive hos with expensive clothes and I sip fine wines and spit vintage flows."  2. " Streets Is Watching" (from In My Lifetime, Vol.1 , 1997)  "If I shoot you I'm brainless / but if you shoot me, you're famous."  3. " Hard Knock Life"  (from Hard Knock Life, Vol

170. The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

Now we continue our journey through the back catalog of a little-known '60s band I've recently discovered. Just as quickly as The Beatles made their definitive album statement with Sgt.Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band , they immediately took it back with the cobbled-together Magical Mystery Tour . Maybe that's why they never got famous. Magical Mystery Tour was the brainchild of Paul McCartney, conceived primarily a film project. It was to be a surreal journey across England with a bus full of musicians and carnies, with the results edited into a one hour special for the BBC. Why people kept giving such a commercially unproven (some might say failed) band chances to make films is beyond me. Of course, the lads created some new songs for the film. Well, the movie turned out to be terrible. The songs were not, but the album still suffers in comparison to its predecessor. In fact, many of the songs have analogues to Sgt.Pepper or Revolver compositions, and are

12 by The Get-Up Kids

12 by... aims to summarize an artist's career in 12 songs. This week features...  Missouri's The Get-Up Kids came on the scene with an appealingly raw pop sense. As I stated in my Promise Ring feature, I'll forever regard them as part of the Holy Trinity of Emo. After 4 memorable albums, they broke up in 2005, but reunited just three years later. They've been going strong since. 1. " Woodson" (from Woodson EP , 1996)  The first song the band wrote together is noisy guitar soundtrack for your minor mental breakdowns. Matthew Pryor shows off his knack for memorably tortured lines: "You build me up / And break me down again / And I take it."  2. " Shorty" (from Four Minute Mile , 1997)  I've seen these guys 6 times and counting, and this one never fails to garner a collectively-wonderful crowd reaction. Imagine 200 sweaty hipster kids bobbing their heads in rhythm and you'll get the idea.  3. " One Year Later" (from R

169. Counting Crows: Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings (2008)

Factoring in varying degrees of dedication, I've been a Counting Crows supporter from the beginning. Furthermore, in my many conversations and readings about music, I've never run into anyone willing to completely dismiss the band. In fact, the worst I've heard is that they're frustrating in concert because lead singer Adam Duritz constantly changes his phrasing and makes it impossible to sing along. So it was somewhat surprising to read the recent Rolling Stone interview with Duritz in which he lamented the poor reputation of his band. "For some reason, everyone decided we were a piece of shit," he claims. I don't doubt that he's heard his share of heckling and naysayers, probably directed toward his emotional delivery and sometimes overworked lyrics, but this seems an exaggeration. The ironic thing is that the Crows' new album - depicted in the article as a response to his detractors - features several songs that clearly spotlight Duritz

12 by Nada Surf

12 by... aims to summarize and artist's career in 12 songs. This one features...   An underrated band if there ever was one, and one that managed to defy all odds by overcoming one-hit wonder status and the major label death blow and become one of the most reliable bands of the 2000s and beyond. 1. "Pressure Free" (from Karmic EP, 1995) "And if I'm waiting for nothing / then what am I doing?" A Gen X anthem if there ever was one. 2. "Popular" (from  High/Low , 1996) Sure, it's gimmicky and not representative of who they are as a band. But it's also funny and clever. 3. " Zen Brain" (from High/Low , 1996)  The song from their Ric Ocasek-produced debut that most predicts the band they'd eventually become. While still ensconced in the Weezer-esqe fuzz, the searching lyrics and strong melody are clear harbingers.  4. " Hyperspace" (from The Proximity Effect , 2000)  Wherein the band is revealed as the power-poppers th

168. The B-52's: Funplex (2008)

The B-52's are simple and complicated all at once. Their party-all-the-time persona belies a tough, resilient history. The runaway success of 1989's Cosmic Thing album pegged them as a mainstream commercial band, but at heart they are an innovative group with avant garde influences. And here we have Funplex , their first studio album since 1992's Good Stuff , and the first with the full band since Cosmic Thing . It's one of those comebacks you didn't even know you wanted. Who knew how much we missed the strong melodies and harmonies of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, non sequitur shouting from hype man Fred Schneider, and the garage rock and rhythm of Keith Strickland? While Funplex isn't a masterpiece, credit has to go to the band simply because it seems more like 16 months than 16 years since we've heard new material from them. The old musical chemistry obviously never went anywhere. Pump kicks it off, surprisingly distorted and unsurprisingly off-ki