Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Superchunk #2 (Sunday Shuffle #373)

This would actually be the perfect weekend to do a Wilco shuffle - we got a surprise new album called Star Wars on Thursday night and then they were amazing at the Pitchfork Music Festival on Friday night. However, I have almost all of their music on CD...which makes shuffling a bit difficult.

So instead, I'm going to bring Superchunk back for round two. I just wrote about Come Pick Me Up and then heard them played on the Dad Rock podcast (which I just started listening to...more on which soon), so I'm itching to hear all of their music. Let's do that now...

1. Tie A Rope To The Back Of The Bus (20) - from No Pocky for Kitty
2. Iron On (11) - from Here's Where The Strings Come In
3. Untied (18) - from On the Mouth
4. Screw It Up (13) - from Leaves in the Gutter
5. Watery Hands (24) - from Indoor Living
6. Seed Toss (20) - from No Pocky for Kitty
7. Flawless (21) - from On the Mouth
8. Creek (22) - from No Pocky for Kitty
9. Rope Light (21) - from Majesty Shredding
10. For Tension (17) - from On the Mouth

Monday, July 13, 2015

Heavy Rotation #25

It's become more difficult to become immersed in any particular albums over a concentrated period of time. I love the fact that Spotify exists because I get to hear way more music than I ever used to...but it also makes it harder to remember what I've been listening to in any given week. I also don't really listen to music in the car or while I'm walking in town or even doing the dishes; instead, I'm listening to podcasts. I love that medium and am always trying to catch up (and usually failing) on the ones I like while also trying new ones. All that said, I am still just as passionate about music and do get into grooves with some albums. Here are the ones I've been listening to the most in the past month or two...

Courtney Barnett/Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit - I first became aware of Barnett when I heard her song "Avant Gardener" (possibly via All Songs Considered). I loved her lyrics, which were delivered in a singsong style and laid on top of excellent indie rock. That song was part of a collection of EPs she put out in early 2014; she has now come out with her first full-length album and it is great. Her lyrics are just as sharp if not sharper and she piles words upon words and it works brilliantly. An example: "You said we should look out further, I guess it wouldn't hurt us/We don't have to be around all these coffee shops/Now we've got that percolator, never made a latte greater/I'm saving twenty-three dollars a week" (from "Depreston") Another example: "I'm growing older every time I blink my eyes/Boring, neurotic, everything I despise/We had some lows, we had some mids, we had some highs/Sell me all your golden rules and I'll see/If that's the kind of person I wanna be/If I'm not happy I'll be glad I kept the receipts" (from "Debbie Downer") If the lyrics don't get you, the song titles will - "Aqua Profunda!" and "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party" are highlights. The music is great here as well, from the blistering rock of "Pedestrian At Best" to the sleepy chug of "An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless In New York)" to the acoustic beauty of "Depreston." Barnett's guitar is all over too, mostly notably on "Small Poppies" and "Kim's Caravan." That last song gets me every time as she sings "Take what you want from me" over and over again with background ohs and an ever increasing guitar build that smashes into raging chords and then some fiery playing. This album is one of the year's best.

Dawes/All Your Favorite Bands - I consider myself a fan of the first two Dawes albums, North Hills and Nothing Is Wrong, but for whatever reason I skipped Stories Don't End in 2013. Well, if I think about it I probably skipped it because a lot of bands were taking up their sonic space, bands I didn't like as much, and it bled over. Anyway, I figured I should check this one out and when I did I was very pleasantly surprised - either I had missed their sound or this album is particularly good or maybe a little of both. These are sturdy pop/rock songs, full of melody and insightful lyrics and harmonies and organ and some really interesting drum flourishes and a lot of solid guitar soloing. I feel like I'm damning with faint praise at this point but that isn't the case. These are songs that get stuck in your head and make you want to sing along. What more can you want from music?

Mac McCaughan/Non-Believers - I first came to McCaughan's songwriting via his Portastatic project, more specifically their 2005 album Bright Ideas. From there I started checking out Superchunk and fairly soon he was one of my favorite songwriters. Non-Believers is his first proper solo album and has a slightly different sound than his usual work, even if you factor in Portastatic. Synthesizers are a big feature with a sound harkening back to the early 80s in some respects but also totally of this time in others. I really like the interplay of the synths and McCaughan's usual guitar-based music. I also really like that he quotes Yoda: "There is no try/there is only do" from "Only Do." That song is a prime example of the interplay between guitar and synth - after the first chorus they intertwine lead lines and it works perfectly. And then he also puts heart on sleeve with "my compass is you." Even the more classic guitar-based songs like "Our Way Free" benefit from some synth. If you've never listened to McCaughan in any form, this would be a good place to start.

Spoon/Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - I've talked about Spoon a lot. They're one of my favorite bands. When I was shuffling through their music, I realized I hadn't listened to this album as a whole in a while. It's definitely in my top 3 as far as their albums are concerned. It starts with the blistering rock of "Don't Make Me A Target" then gets ethereal with a piano loop and spacey vocals on "The Ghost of You Lingers," which is followed by the bouncy pop of "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb." I love the jaunty horns of "The Underdog" and how the simple opening of acoustic guitar, piano, and shaker opens up into a fuller band sound in "Black Like Me."

Superchunk/Come Pick Me Up - The beauty of coming to Superchunk during their long 2000s hiatus meant that I was able to approach their albums in any order and without any preconceptions of what the band should sound like. Come Pick Me Up is their 7th album (it came out in 1999) but it was the 2nd one I heard, as I worked my way backwards from 2001's Here's To Shutting Up. The band just put out a reissue, which is what brought me back to it. The album opens with "So Convinced," which has an oddly flat drum sound that works with the buzzy bass. It is not the blast of power from their earlier work, though over the course of its 2 minutes the song pushes the pace faster and faster before slamming into "Hello Hawk." There's some unusual sounds in that song too, with a woozy undertone during the chours (which, by the way, gives the album its title via the lyrics "Hello hawk, come pick me up") before charging back into some prime guitar. Jim O'Rourke produced this album; he also worked with Wilco in the early 2000s during the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot/A Ghost Is Born era. There are nice touches all over these songs - the "ooh ooh ooh"s of "Cursed Mirror" and the sneaky violin in "1000 Pounds" and the unexpected horns in the last minute of "Pink Clouds" to name three. Remember how I said earlier how Mac was one of my favorite songwriters? "Good Dreams" is a particular favorite with its heartfelt chorus ("Hold me all night/Give me good dreams") sung in falsetto; another favorite is "Pulled Muscle" with its chorus of "The heart's a muscle/I pull it constantly/Pull my muscles/Pull my muscles, please." Then there's 'Tiny Bombs" which gives us "How honest can I be?" with some sing-song "bongs" laid overtop and then a great guitar freakout to follow. I just love this band.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Shuffle #372

I should probably just change this blog's name to Sunday Shuffle at this point...

1. Waiting for Slow Songs/Sloan (12) - last played on 4/26/15
2. Butchers Tale (Western Front 1914)/The Zombies (13) - last played on 4/5/15
3. Picking Up Too Fast/Centro-Matic (5) - last played on 10/30/14
4. Sidewalk/Superchunk (18) - last played on 3/11/15
5. Woods/Bon Iver (4) - last played on 10/30/14
6. You Tell Me Where/The New Pornographers (7) - last played on 5/21/15
7. All The Wine/The National (4) - last played on 4/19/15
8. Long Vows/Band of Horses (13) - last played on 2/13/15
9. Theater/Middle Brother (16) - last played on 12/14/14
10. Murdering Oscar/Patterson Hood (8) - last played on 5/24/15

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Spoon #2 (Sunday Shuffle #371)

I know I already did one of these about 6 months ago but last night I read that Spoon played an afterparty of their show (which was a Spoon cover band playing 2 whole albums). That's awesome and it makes me want to listen to their equally awesome music. So, I'm going to do that...

1. Nobody Gets Me But You (18) - from Transference
2. My Little Japanese Cigarette Case (15) - from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
3. Wanted to Be Your (6) - from Telephono
4. Sister Jack (11) - from Gimme Fiction
5. The Beast And Dragon, Adored (12) - from Gimme Fiction
6. Rhthm & Soul (12) - from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
7. Change My Life (8) - from Love Ways
8. My Mathematical Mind (11) - from Gimme Fiction
9. Who Makes Your Money (19) - from Transference
10. Inside Out (16) - from They Want Your Soul

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Smut (Sunday Shuffle #370)

Today's shuffle focuses on The New Pornographers. I've been a fan ever since I grabbed Electric Version, their second album. All six of their albums are full of melodic power pop/pop music with multiple singers and songwriters (Carl Newman, Dan Bejar, and Neko Case being the most prominent members). If you don't know them, you should definitely check them out (as well as their side projects/solo albums). The play counts for the first three albums will be low as I only recently ripped them to iTunes. Rest assured, those songs have been played dozens of times. In fact, Twin Cinema is one of my favorite albums ever. I also listened to Brill Bruisers a bunch on Spotify before I got my own digital copy. Anyway, enough dissembling about play counts, I'm ready to listen to these songs...

1. From Blown Speakers (2) - from Electric Version
2. Moves (18) - from Together
3. Use It (2) - from Twin Cinema
4. Falling Through You Clothes (2) - from Twin Cinema
5. My Shepherd (17) - from Together
6. Champions Of Red Wine (7) - from Brill Bruisers
7. Hi-Rise (8) - from Brill Bruisers
8. We End Up Together (17) - from Together
9. Ballad Of A Comeback Kid (5) - from Electric Version
10. Failsafe (16) - from Challengers

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday Shuffle #369

It's the first shuffle of summer break! Of course, tomorrow I start getting in the pool for hours every day but I'll still have more time to read and listen to music and catch up on TV and all of that good stuff. For now, let's just get to today's ten...

1. Golden Light/Twin Shadow (5) - last played on 12/20/12
2. Last Word/Archers of Loaf (8) - last played on 2/22/15
3. St. Peter's Day Festival/Ra Ra Riot (4) - last played on 1/18/15
4. Backseat Sweetheart/Two Hours Traffic (7) - last played on 2/22/15
5. Chloe In The Afternoon/St. Vincent (12) - last played on 3/10/15
6. Fables/The Dodos (6) - last played on 11/16/14
7. Milwaukee (Acoustic)/The Both (2) - last played on 4/18/15
8. Worthwhile/The Rosebuds (8) - last played on 4/10/15
9. Girls and Boys/Blur (5) - last played on 4/29/15
10. New York/U2 (4) - last played on 2/22/15

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Shuffle #368

Another Sunday of starting this but not knowing when I'm going to finish. Going for a run in short order and then I have an in-service for swimming lessons at noon plus all the usual Sunday chores. Really, it would be a day not to bother but I feel like doing one. And so, on to today's ten...

1. Ain't That the Way/Divine Fits (24) - last played on 5/3/15
2. Laissez-faire/Telekinesis (13) - last played on 11/3/14
3. Banging Camp/The Hold Steady (12) - last played on 5/9/15
4. (Even If You Die On The) Ocean/Saturday Looks Good To Me (7) - last played on 5/27/13
5. She Tows The Line/Crooked Fingers (11) - last played on 12/10/12
6. Woman/Joseph Arthur (4) - last played on 6/27/10
7. Stay With Me/Ryan Adams (8) - last played on 5/23/15
8. Gotta Get Up/Harry Nilsson (5) - last played on 3/19/15
9. Don't You Believe a Word/Sloan (11) - last played on 11/26/14
10. After All The Roads Have Lead to Nowhere (Live)/Sugar (1) - debut