Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Shuffle #359

It's been a month since I did the last one and I feel like doing one today. That's how the magic happens, people. Ha. Anyway, here are today's ten...

1. Mystery Hours/The New Pornographers (2) - last played on 11/9/14
2. Early Aubade/Roman Candle (7) - last played on 5/19/13
3. Immaculate/Shearwater (14) - last played on 11/3/14
4. My Friend/Dr. Dog (5) - last played on 10/20/13
5. Imitosis/Andrew Bird (3) - last played on 6/18/12
6. Have You Ever Seen the Rain/Creedence Clearwater Revival (6) - last played on 10/19/14
7. Dance Away/Smith Westerns (9) - last played on 10/26/14
8. Lisbon/The Walkmen (13) - last played on 11/12/14
9. Jack Killed Mom/Jenny Lewis (4) - last played on 11/1/14
10. Oh No/Andrew Bird (6) - last played on 12/21/14

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Heavy Rotation #24

It's been well over a year since the last Heavy Rotation but I've been hitting these albums pretty hard over the past couple weeks, so it's time for a new installment...

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals/Cold Roses - I think I've mentioned by big Ryan Adams listen last fall in the run-up to his great self-titled release. I'd been a fan in the early 2000s and then lost touch due to the sheer volume of music he put out. Out of all the albums that were new to me, Cold Roses made the biggest impression. It's a double album and while that can sometimes lead to bloat, I've always admired the ambition of doing one (and I don't think there's bloat in this case). "Magnolia Mountain," a perfect shambling rocker, opens the album and it's followed by the more melancholy "Sweet Illusions"; a great 1-2 punch. Later on the first disc, I love the repeated "I could never close/I could never get close enough/I could never get close enough...to you" in the last 2 minutes or so of "Cherry Lane." The second song on the second disc, "Let It Ride" is a catchy country rock tune that was featured on Adams' recent Austin City Limits appearance. It would be silly to talk about every song but a quick couple of other highlights are the title track and "If I Am A Stranger," which starts with a nice guitar line and serves up a great melody on the chorus.

Band of Horses/Mirage Rock - A friend of mine recently did some artwork based around lines of songs she and her husband love and shared them with me. One piece focuses on "No One's Gonna Love You," from Band of Horses' 2007 album, Cease To Begin; that makes me happy because I turned her on to BoH a few years back. Add to that a recent announcement that the band has a new album coming in a few months lead me to circle back to this album, their most recent, which came out in 2012. I bought it when it came out, of course, but only listened to it 3 or 4 times before shrugging my shoulders and giving up. I'd loved 2010's Infinite Arms and this record was clearly not that. Cut to now and while it still isn't quite Infinite Arms, it's also a lot better than I gave it credit. I always liked the crunch and chiming guitars of opener "Knock Knock" as well as its wonderful "woo"s but a couple other songs have knocked me out. Take "How To Live," for example. After a short rave-up opening section, it settles into a steady groove with a great melody and excellent harmonies before a nifty guitar solo after the bridge and a cool drum fill to return to the verse. The drum fill comes back one more time too and so does the rave-up to close out the song. It's now one of my favorite BoH songs. That's followed by "Slow Cruel Hands Of Time," which has their classic sounds, and later by "Dumpster World," which starts with a loping little bass line and a shuffle with a CSN sound and crashes into heavier guitar for its middle section before reverting to the previous sounds in the outro. The other song that bowled me over and made me wonder what I thought I originally heard was "Long Vows." It's a ballad with some nice guitar over slow acoustic strums and has gorgeous harmonies. So good. I'm definitely excited for the new material but am content to stay immersed in this album until that happens.

Buffalo Tom/Big Red Letter Day - Sometimes I wonder what music I was listening to in the 90s. Sure, I was down with Matthew Sweet and R.E.M. and The Jayhawks (for a very small example) but I was not listening to Superchunk and Teenage Fanclub and Pavement (same). I know, I know. Buffalo Tom is another example of what I missed out on for so many years. I grabbed their 1992 album Let Me Come Over via eMusic 4 or 5 years ago and really liked it. It's only now, however, that I've given 1993's Big Red Letter Day a go and this was the album that had their alt-rock hit, "Sodajerk," a song I really loved. Again, stupid. Call it power pop or rock but this is a sound I love. The albums leads with "Sodajerk"; the song is propelled by the bass and drums and is a great example of two vocalists working together with one echoing the other throughout the verses. Also, there's no chorus. If you were around in the early 90s and listened to the radio, you probably know it. "I'm Allowed" begins with "Waited for an answer/But I waited for 25 years" and is emotional melodic rock music before "emo" ever existed. Two other highlights are 'Torch Singer," which lyrically gives the album its title and musically is a great 3 minute pop song, and album closer "Anything That Way," which brings back the emotion and the dual vocalists and all the band's strengths.

Ex Hex/Rips - Yes, the album was my #5 in 2014 and I wrote a brief bit about it not that long ago. I haven't gotten tired of their brand of rock music. It's hard-charging and melodic and Mary Timony gives us some great guitar solos. I love love love it.

Ben Kweller/Changing Horses - After I went back to Mirage Rock, I decided I should give this album another go as well. I absolutely love Kweller's self-titled 2006 album; in fact, were I to make a list of my favorite albums ever it would have a place. I also really love Go Fly A Kite from 2012; those two albums are power pop at its best. Changing Horses came in between those albums and I've always had a hard time with it, mostly stemming from the musical style - it's much more of a country-leaning album. I obviously don't have a problem with that sort of music but the fit just seems off. That said, I have been enjoying listening and songs like "Fight," "Wantin' Her Again," and "Things I Like To Do" are quite enjoyable. Maybe the song that best synthesizes Kweller's typical strengths with the sound of this album is "On Her Own," where the melody is strong and the piano is just as prominent as the steel guitar.

Sleater-Kinney/No Cities To Love - This band falls into that same category of bands I should have been listening to in the 90s. I only got into them with their last album, The Woods, which came out back in 2005. It was a monster of an album but when they went on their hiatus, I mostly forgot about them. I've dabbled in their earlier albums a bit in the last year and was ready to hear this new one. It is so good that I was sure it would be in the top ten for the year when I first heard it. The interplay of Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker's guitars is always compelling and Janet Weiss is one of the best drummers working today. Tucker totally owns the vocals on the album but Brownstein's vocal contributions aren't lesser in any way. It's a tight ten songs full of fire and fury. How many bands could be gone for so long and come back like this?

Twerps/Range Anxiety - Here's a band I knew nothing about before this year. They are from Australia and this record is being put out by Merge Records (and if you know me, you know I always give Merge acts a shot). I would describe them as jangle pop and they remind me a bit of The Go-Betweens, which is a very good thing. After a short instrumental, the album kicks off with "I Don't Mind," which starts with a languid drum beat and guitar line and builds from there. "Back to You" is a bouncy pop tune with a sneaky little synth riff. "Simple Feelings" stands out for its bass riff and the guitars that get layered over top. The band also uses its two vocalists well - while the underlying music remains similar, the juxtaposition between the male and female singers is a pleasant one. This is a charming album that will worm its way into your head.

I hope my ramblings have persuaded you to give at least some of these albums a listen - they're all on Spotify!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl Shuffle 2015 (Sunday Shuffle #358)

It's a good thing the Super Bowl party I'm going to is next door because today's snowstorm means traveling much farther than that is a no go. My parents were supposed to come as well but they are snowed in and even had church cancelled this morning.

As for the game itself, I'm more rooting against the Patriots than rooting for the Seahawks but I do hope it's at least competitive.

I'm going to do something quite different today. Every Sunday I do this shuffle, I let the music run long after the first 10. Some days I might listen to 100 songs this way or more. So, in honor of Super Bowl XLIX I'm going to list the first 49 songs that pop up today. Crazy, yes, but why not...

1. Bartomelo And The Buzzing Of Bees/Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (16) - last played on 9/15/13
2. Let's Love/Matthew Sweet (7) - last played on 4/15/12
3. Karen/The National (1) - loaded onto iTunes some time in Dec. 2014
4. Black Hole/She & Him (9) - last played on 6/23/13
5. The Question Is How Fast/Superchunk (16) - last played on 8/14/13
6. (Quicksilver Dreams of) Maria /Steve Earle (4) - last played on 3/25/12
7. Surface Envy/Sleater-Kinney (4) - last played on 1/29/15
8. Bonfire/Josh Ritter (14) - last played on 6/22/14
9. Requiem/M. Ward (3) - last played on 3/2/12
10. You Dissolve/The Thermals (8) - last played on 6/9/13
11. You Gotta Feel It/Spoon (2) - last played on 1/11/15
12. Safety Bricks/Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew (4) - last played on 10/19/14
13. Keep Your Hands off Her/The Black Keys (4) - last played on 3/31/13
14. Discolite/Teenage Fanclub (6) - last played on 12/30/14
15. Clownmaster (Live)/Sugar (2) - last played on 12/14/14
16. As I Fall/Alejandro Escovedo (4) - last played on 4/15/12
17. Hold On/Alabama Shakes (15) - last played on 7/8/13
18. Magic America/Blur (4) - last played on 4/25/14
19. Window Shopping/Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings (13) - last played on 12/2/12
20. Take It All/Badfinger (8) - last played on 11/11/14
21. Don't Let Me Go/Michael Penn (8) - last played on 1/17/15
22. White Table/Delta Spirit (13) - last played on 12/21/14
23. Get Out The State/Spoon (8) - last played on 1/17/15
24. Hold Still/Jarvis Cocker (6) - last played on 11/1/14
25. Geoffrey's Tune/Nude Beach (3) - last played on 1/15/15
26. Another Rock Star Laments (ps 88:5)/The Prayers & Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (2) - last played on 6/11/11
27. Banker And A Liar/Reigning Sound (7) - last played on 10/26/14
28. That Western Skyline/Dawes (12) - last played on 8/26/12
29. Modern Art/Art Brut (10) - last played on 5/9/13
30. The Popular Music/Superchunk (18) - last played on 4/12/14
31. Waiting For the Kid to Come Out/Spoon (10) - last played on 1/19/15
32. I Want You To Know/Dinosaur Jr. (14) - last played on 7/14/13
33. Set in Motion/Sloan (22) - last played on 11/30/14
34. Inn Of The Seventh Ray/Eleanor Friedberger (6) - last played on 10/31/14
35. Driving Sideways/Aimee Mann (4) - last played on 2/23/14
36. Another Way I Could Do It/Sloan (24) - last played on 12/31/14
37. You Wanna Freak Out/My Morning Jacket (8) - last played on 3/18/12
38. I Can Feel It/Sloan (16) - last played on 1/4/15
39. Right or Wrong/Sloan (20) - last played on 11/29/14
40. Don't Say A Word/Crooked Fingers (5) - last played on 2/20/12
41. The Nu Temptations/Redd Kross (7) - last played on 11/30/13
42. Carina Constellation/John Vanderslice (5) - last played on 12/21/14
43. Yes I Know/Higgins (12) - last played on 2/5/12
44. BFF/Clem Snide (16) - last played on 3/21/12
45. Sweetness and Life/Portastatic (8) - last played on 2/3/13
46. Do It Anyway/Ben Folds Five (11) - last played on 9/10/13
47. Failsafe/The New Pornographers (14) - last played on 12/21/14
48. Introducing Angels/Destroyer (4) - last played on 8/16/14
49. Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament/The Beastie Boys (7) - last played on 5/5/12

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Shuffle #357

Let's just get right to today's ten...

1. Alphabet Pony/The Kills (4) - last played on 1/20/13
2. Open The Door/British Sea Power (3) - last played on 10/5/14
3. Nobody Knows (But I Do)/Mary Weiss (3) - last played on 11/1/14
4. Company Book (Live)/Sugar (2) - last played on 4/28/13
5. Sim Sala Bim/Fleet Foxes (14) - last played on 10/24/14
6. Rollercoaster/M. Ward (4) - last played on 5/6/12
7. Feast Of Hearts/The Damnwells (10) - last played on 4/21/13
8. Shrinking Violet/Bishop Allen (4) - last played on 8/11/14
9. Cast Iron/Superchunk (17) - last played on 10/24/14
10. Misfits & Mistakes/Superchunk (12) - last played on 6/2/13

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Shuffle #356

I typically let shuffle mode run all Sunday long but I don't know how many more songs I'll hear today. There are 2 playoff games to watch. I also want to continue watching Parks & Recreation; on Dec. 1, I decided to rewatch the series on Netflix so I would be ready for the final season. Well, the new season starts Tuesday and I only hit the halfway point last night. Yes, I know I won't watch 55 more episodes in 2 days but I do want to keep watching because the show is great (save for the 6 episode first season). Anyway, long story short, I should get to today's ten...

1. Backstabbin'/Sloan (17) - last played on 11/28/14
2. Pretty Girl from Feltre/The Avett Brothers (4) - last played on 6/28/12
3. My Favorite Year/Destroyer (10) - last played on 8/16/14
4. Cato As A Pun/Of Montreal (6) - last played on 10/5/14
5. Maybe After He's Gone/The Zombies (13) - last played on 11/4/14
6. Scarlet Town/Bob Dylan (5) - last played on 5/16/13
7. I Fought Piranhas/The White Stripes (12) - last played on 3/2/14
8. God Or Man/Ivan & Alyosha (11) - last played on 10/27/14
9. I Miss Your Bones/Hospitality (5) - last played on 12/29/14
10. The Stars/American Music Club (4) - last played on 10/20/13

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday Shuffle #355

I wasn't 100% sure I was going to continue the shuffle in 2015. I got burned out on it last year and went 4 1/2 months without doing one. When I did one at the end of September, I thought I might dip my toe in and out but ended up getting back into the swing. I'm enjoying the process again.

Another reason to keep this feature going is that my other long-standing Sunday morning tradition has come to an end. For well over a decade (and probably for at least 15 years) I watched The Sports Reporters on ESPN. This past week, however, we cut our cable and I no longer can watch. I will definitely miss that ritual, so it's going to be good to keep this one going, at least for a while. If I do stick with this throughout the year, I will reach #400 before the end of the year. Maybe that would be a good stopping point. We'll see.

All of that leads me to this: here are today's ten...

1. 30 Gallon Tank/Spoon (13) - last played on 10/12
2. Daphnia/Yo La Tengo (4) - last played on 12/9/12
3. Young Men Dead/The Black Angels (6) - last played on 6/2/13
4. I Keep Coming Back/The Afghan Whigs (19) - last played on 10/7/14
5. This Room/The Love Language (18) - last played on 6/20/13
6. Gorgeous Georgie/Stephen Malkmus (10) - last played on 1/2/14
7. 7/4 (Shoreline)/Broken Social Scene (8) - last played on 4/7/13
8. Pittsburgh/The Lemonheads (8) - last played on 12/19/13
9. Some Racing, Some Stopping/Headlights (5) - last played on 7/8/11
10. Hostages/A.C. Newman (17) - last played on 4/13/14

While I was listening to these songs, word came via Twitter that longtime ESPN Sportscenter anchor Stuart Scott passed away. He's been fighting cancer for years. He was one of my favorites and will be missed. Rest in peace, Stu.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Firsts

I'm worn out from yesterday's marathon blogging but thought I'd mark down the year's pop culture firsts...

The first book I'm reading this year is World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters.

The first comic I read was She-Hulk #11.

The first TV show I watched was Parks & Recreation Season 2, Episode 23.

The first song I listened to, as is traditional, was "This Will Be Our Year" by The Zombies.

The first album I listened to was Ryan Adams' self-titled, my #2 album in 2014.

The first podcast I listened to was half an episode or so of Pop Culture Happy Hour.

The first blog post I wrote was this one.

Boom.