I seem to discover lots of news bands that I like every year, and since this particular day of the challenge doesn’t ask me to pick my favorite – just a band I like – let’s keep it simple and pick one without overthinking it. Because if I start thinking about this one I’ll be here all night.
Two-Door Cinema Club is one of my favorite finds of the past couple of years. Crisp, smart indie pop that owes a great deal to the late ’70s New Wave and bands like XTC and Haircut 100 (although when they’re asked about their influences they don’t really talk about New Wave). Love this one. Read more
It seems that America now officially believes in torture as a primary tool of investigation. And back in 2008, I did a little story on how, believe it or not, we are using music as an implement of torture. So I suppose today’s challenge has a dark side, huh?
Mercifully for those suspected terrorists in captivity, DJ EIT (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) lacks imagination (although, +1 for the “Barney Theme Song” and Meow Mix jingle). Still, nothing at all from the Disco era? Read more
We’re going in a slightly different direction today. I mean, for a variety of artistic and intellectual reasons I’d love to have dinner with the greatest bands ever – The Fabs, The Stones, The Who, Zep, Floyd, U2, REM, Van Morrison, and a bunch of others. Then there’s this class of really cool, past and present indie artists from then and now, like Jeff Foster and Don Dixon and The Lost Patrol and Jag Star and Paul Lewis and Fiction 8 and Space Team Electra, but I have had dinner with some of them (and have reasonable expectations of dining with the rest of them some day).
But today, I’m thinking about personal realities. Read more
So much of popular music is about sex and nothing else, and we have seen more sexcess than we probably know how to process. Perhaps so much that we occasionally grow numb to it.
I can think of dozens of really sexy women in music, but since it seems like sexy is a prerequisite to even get in the door, it really takes a bit extra to rise above the noise.
Enter Alison Goldfrapp. Read more
The guy can’t sing (phrasing, anyone?) He can’t write songs. And while I’ve heard guitarists defend him, I’ve personally never seen or heard him play anything that strikes me as being more than sort of marginally competent.
I would ask you to explain to me what the big deal is, but I’m afraid you’d try. So here’s a song by Dave Matthews, and the less said about it the better. I don’t necessarily recommend that you listen to it.
Moving along…. Read more
Here’s one I’ve been waiting on.
Few things reveal more about a society than its music. Plato explained that when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the state change with them. Argue chicken and egg on this if you like, but Jimmy Swaggart bitched about it and Pop Will Eat Itself sampled his rant in the intro to Cure for Sanity. Plato, Jimmy Swaggart and PWEI can’t all be wrong.
Whether music causes the widespread rot of the fabric of society or merely holds a mirror up to it, the disturbing truth is that we live in the Age of American Idol, the shallowest, most cynical and relentlessly vapid corporate put-up job in entertainment history. Read more
I’ve always felt strongly attuned to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous short story, “Ethan Brand.” The title character forsakes his life to search the world for the unpardonable sin. He finds it. It ends badly for him. The nature of the sin?
He remembered with what tenderness, with what love and sympathy for mankind, and what pity for human guilt and woe, he had first begun to contemplate those ideas which afterwards became the inspiration of his life; with what reverence he had then looked into the heart of man, viewing it as a temple originally divine, and, however desecrated, still to be held sacred by a brother; Read more
When we’re kids we like the damnedest things, don’t we? There was a moment, I guess during the summer of 1972, when my two favorite songs were the Jackson 5’s “Rockin’ Robin”…
So many places I haven’t been, so many places I want to go, so many songs about places. But I guess the place I haven’t been that I want to see the most is Scotland.
My favorite Scottish artist is Fish. And as he sings here, when he was still with Marillion, he was born “with a heart of Lothian.”
Perhaps I was, too, just a bit… Read more
And I’m back from several days of packing and moving, just in time to find this emotional and spiritual landmine waiting for me. [sigh]
When you’re a kid in America, nothing is as tangibly magical as Christmas. The excitement, the presents, the lights, the sheer spectacle of the entire world gone shimmery. And nothing is more special than family, the entire family gathered together, the food, the sense of absolute belonging. You are home, in every way it is possible to be home. Or at least that’s how it was for me. Read more
Every movie has a soundtrack. And let’s be honest – most of them are as unmemorable as … well, as the movies themselves. At its best, though, the music captures the spiritual essence of the auteur‘s vision, interacting with the film in ways that are simply transcendent. One plus one equals infinity, and it’s impossible to ever conceive of song and scene independently again.
There are three such instances that stand out in my memory, and they run the gamut from ridiculous to sublime. Rather than picking one, let’s consider all three. Read more
I imagine most of us have loved. And lost. I also imagine that most of us look back, on occasion, and wonder what the hell we were thinking.
Some years ago I made what I still regard as the worst mistake of my life. When it went to hell it didn’t destroy the whole world, it didn’t leave me any more destitute than I was already, it didn’t put me in rehab, and in truth I recovered quicker than I had any right to. But this was a relationship that I should never have gotten into, and doing so involved me selling out just about every principle that was important to me. I betrayed myself, my values, and thank all the gods that my grandparents, who raised me to be a better man, weren’t alive to see the shame I rained down on us. Read more
In a way, this is kind of a trick question. If you’re doing it right, a song doesn’t last nearly long enough. So when I was creating 30-Day Song Challenge, the Sequel, maybe I should have designated day 13 for your favorite make-out album.
In any case, this may be the single easiest day of either the original challenge or the sequel, because there is one CD that stands alone at the top of Make-Out Mountain: Avalon, by Roxy Music. Read more
If you’ve been following the series, you may have noticed that instead of simply offering up a song that fits the criteria (“a song you love from the ’00s”), I’m trying to write about songs that are in some way definitive. Maybe it was something that typified a dominant movement, or perhaps it was a tune that marked an important point in my personal narrative. Whatever, I’ve been trying to write a series not just about songs, but about significant songs. And that’s what I’m going to keep doing, starting right now. Read more
For a long time – basically, from the British Invasion through the end of the ’80s – there was a great deal of shared history between the rock of America and the UK. What was happening on one side of the pond made its way in short order to the other side, and this was generally a good thing.
But then the 1990s rolled around and the exchange program collapsed seemingly overnight. Over here we had Grunge, second-wave Punk, Alternative, Industrial, Jam bands and Hootie & the Motherfucking Blowfish. Read more