The Friday Five: March 26, 2010

Friday Five

Friday Five : ‘frī-(,)dā,-dē ‘fīv : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes, then share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editor’s Note: I want to take just a moment to thank Rob Smith for filling in for me last week. I strongly recommend checking out his series Death by Power Ballad, over at Popdose. He is a huge influence on my writing style, and truth be told, I was honored to have him cover for me. Now, onto this week’s five! – Michael

The Five:

“Spoon” by Dave Matthews Band (from Before These Crowded Streets, 1998)

Before These Crowded Streets remains my favorite record by Dave Matthews Band. It has a dynamic that I think that the band has been chasing ever since its release, and has only come close to with their most recent release Big Whiskey and the Groo Grux King. “Spoon” is the record’s final cut, and features Alanis Morissette on vocals, Bela Fleck on Banjo. The lyrics find Dave contemplating God himself in a cup of coffee. Alanis delivers the knockout, third verse:

From time to time
Minutes and hours
Some move ahead while
Some lag behind
It’s like the balloon that
Rise and then vanish
This drop of hope
That falls from his eyes

“The Idea of You” by Dave Matthews Band (from 2008-08-26: DMB Live Trax, Volume 14, 2009)

More DMB? I’ll take it! This recording is from the final show saxophonist LeRoi Moore performed with the band before the ATV accident that lead to his death. The tune is an unreleased gem that the band has played multiple incarnations of in the last few years. Matthews’ has mentioned on numerous occasions that the track is about his unrequited crush on a childhood babysitter. I’ve maintained since the first time I heard it in 2006, that if they released this as a single it would be just a big of a “hit” as “Crash (Into Me).” The band shelved this song for the 2009 tour, and it’s uncertain if it will resurface, but here’s hoping it does.

“A Hard Day’s Night” by The Beatles (from A Hard Day’s Night, 1964)

Now that the second – or was it the third – wave of Beatlemania has settled down a bit, I’ve been spending some quality time with each of the remastered records individually. A Hard Day’s Night is the record that I seem to come back to most often, likely driven by my love of the title track and only furthered by its association with the film of the same name. I’ve watch the movie at least three or four times in the last six months, as it seems to pop up on VH1 Classic or Palladia at least once a month.

“Momma’s Boy” by Chromeo (from Fancy Footwork, 2008)

I love Chromeo. That’s it.

“Perfection” by Run D.M.C. (from Raising Hell, 1986)

Back in the day, my friend Ducky and I – yes, we called him Ducky – would learn and recite the rhymes from this record. This one I always rocked a little extra hard, if only for the following:

I got a funky fresh (car) with the funky fresh (bar)
I’m a funky fresh (star) and I’m up to (par)

Now that I’ve embarrassed myself, I think I’ll go ahead and ask the question:

What’s on your shuffle today?

Gonzo’s Top 10 of the Decade

Hello Ickies! I know I’ve been absent from posting for far too long. I shall try harder in 2010 (though I think I said the same thing last year).

The first decade of the new millennium produced some great music, from established artists and from new folks. Keeping with the format set forth by Mark and Pete, I offer my top 10 of the decade. Narrowing it to ten was a near impossible task. I adopted Pete’s “one album per artist rule,” which helped. Also know that these are in no order whatsoever. I simply can’t rank them. We’ll go chronologically. That seems fair.

First, I’ll briefly plug my two-disc Aughts (oughts?) mix that Pete mentioned. Check it out and enjoy!

Outkast – Stankonia (2000)
Still my favorite Outkast record. I am certainly not one to knock Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. But for me, Stankonia has held up better as the new decade dawns. That might just be a product of having played the hell out of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. But personally, I feel like when Outkast hit, they made us realize that hey, you can actually have really good hip hop in the top 40.

Daft Punk – Discovery (2001)

Speaking of albums that I overplayed in the earlier part of the decade, Daft Punk’s sophomore effort is certainly another example. There were so many big songs off this – whether their bigness was represented in college airplay or appropriation by television commercials. “One More Time,” “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” “Digital Love,” “Something About Us,” “Face to Face” … Lord. This was essential weekend grooving for a good 2 years of my college life.

Sigur Ros – ( ) (2002)

This album blew me away. At the time, a friend described Sigur Ros as music to watch glaciers move by (or something along those lines). I was impressed first with the laboriously slow tempo of the tracks. More than that though, was the emotional depth in an album of songs who had no true lyrics to speak of. You may recall that the songs are sung in “Hopelandic,” wherein the idea was to go for the phonetic sounds that seemed most effective rather than a language proper (though structurally Hopelandic is based on the band’s native tongue of Icelandic).

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)

This album cemented the Flaming Lips in music history. They’d had some success with “She Don’t Use Jelly” and more recently, The Soft Bulletin. But Yoshimi took them to the next level. Although their follow up (2006’s At War with the Mystics) was great and their current release (Embryonic) is also quite good, it all goes back to Yoshimi. It’s their masterpiece.

Jay-Z – The Black Album (2003)

“S’ya boy!” Speaking of canonic, career-defining albums, there is little doubt in my mind that Jay-Z’s Black Album is his magnum opus. It almost makes me think that maybe he was serious about retiring, and put everything into what was to be his swan song. Of course that isn’t the way things panned out. Nonetheless, the album is a hip hop classic, track after track.

White Stripes-Get Behind Me Satan (2005)

I love the White Stripes. No, really. And I’ve gone on record as naming Jack White the artist of the decade. The Stripes have yet to disappoint me. Sure, 2007’s Icky Thump didn’t live up to its predecessors, but even their worst album is still pretty damn good. I didn’t think they could top Elephant, but 2005’s Get Behind Me Satan did just that. I love that they aren’t afraid to experiment – they relish the chance to step outside of their blues-rock/garage comfort zone. Satan was all over the place stylistically, and each fore was a success. The summer that this came out, I seriously listened to it at least twice a day for a month.

MIA-Arular (2005)

Pete might be onto something in saying that MIA is a love her or hate her type of artist. I love her, though I’ve played her for others that remain unimpressed. I was floored upon hearing Arular – it was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. It sounds cliche to say, but MIA is truly a hybrid artist, meshing so many genres and cultural flavors into one. 2007’s Kala is also amazing, but not quite the sonic dance floor assault that Arular is. She’s allegedly at work on the third album, so here’s hoping.

Chromeo – Fancy Footwork (2007)

Quite possibly my pick for best party album of the decade. They’re cheeky, funky and they’ve mastered the Minneapolis sound. Fancy Footwork just makes me want to dance, from start to finish. There is not a bad track on the album. They’re also a good time live, and they’ve slated a new disc for a summer 2010 release. I can’t wait.

Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours (2008)

More dancing. Aussie electropop outfit Cut Copy harken back to the 1980s synth dance of groups like New Order, but manage to do so in a way that takes them beyond being a mere retro or ripoff act. In essence, Cut Copy effectively takes emotive 1980s dance music and updates it for the new millennium. (Can I still refer to this as the new millennium ten years on?)

Santogold – Santogold (2008)

A year ago, I claimed Santogold’s self-titled debut as my favorite disc from 2008, and my feelings have not changed. The Brooklynite alternately incorporates hip hop, new wave and ska influences among others, all adding up to one of the most refreshing albums of the decade. And she keeps good company – Diplo, Switch, Spank Rock, Amanda Blank…I very much look forward to what Santogold/Santigold offers up in the new decade.

The Friday Five: January 1, 2010

Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editors Note: For the first Friday Five of 2010, I’m taking a look back at five of my favorite records from the last decade. Placed in no particular order, these are the records that I found myself coming back to time and again. Happy New Year, to all of you.  – Michael

Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry on Their Own” (from Back to Black, 2006)

Is there an artist that better embodies “The Noughties” than Amy Winehouse? The slight, awkward girl from Southgate, England with the voice that could topple buildings; yet it was her personal battles with drugs that the media focused on. An amalgam of classic soul, vocal jazz and ska, Back to Black earned Winehouse six Grammy nominations and five awards, and was the best selling record in 2007. The track “Tears Dry on Their Own,” for me, stands out above the rest; capturing the best of Winehouse’s powerful vocals.

The Gaslight Anthem – “Great Expectations” (from The ’59 Sound, 2008)

You can take the band out of New Jersey, but you cannot take the New Jersey out of the band. The Gaslight Anthem provided the end of the decade with a much-needed shot of straightforward rock & roll. The songs on The ’59 Sound are rife with stories of life in small town America; quoting everyone from Bon Jovi, Counting Crows and even The Boss himself, all while sounding fresh and vital. The record kicks off with the barnburner “Great Expectations,” which contains as many literary movements as you would expect from a song titled after the Charles Dickens classic.

Chromeo – “Bonafied Lovin’ (Tough Guys)” (from Fancy Footwork, 2008)

The self-described “only successful Arab/Jewish partnership since the dawn of human culture,” Chromeo is holding the torch for ’80s inspired electrofunk. Their album, Fancy Footwork, is one of the best dance records of the last decade. They also turned in one of the most memorable appearances on Daryl Hall’s web series, Live from Daryl’s House. Selecting a single track from the record proved nearly impossible, so I put my trust in the shuffle button, which served up the new jack swing of “Bonafied Lovin’ (Tough Guys).”

Band of Horses – “The First Song” (from Everything All the Time, 2006)

There is a certain understated majesty to the opening of the aptly titled “The First Song,” the lead track on Band of Horses 2006 debut Everything All the Time. Indie rock with a decidedly southern bend, the band — led by Ben Bridwell — caught flack for allowing their anthemic, “The Funeral,” to be used in marketing campaigns for Ford as well as in slew of movies and television programs.

Prince – “Call My Name” (from Musicology, 2004)

The last decade has been an uneven one for Prince. As a performer, he toured the world twice over, commanded a Las Vegas residency, 21 nights at London’s O2 stadium, and perhaps one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime performances; as a recording artist, he was hit or miss. However, the one exception was the incredibly funky Musicology, which rocketed Prince back into the spotlight. From funk to soul, his purple badness proved that he still had the juice to create a commercially viable, yet funky as hell record.

So tell me, what is soothing your aching head today?

100 Words on “Live from Daryl’s House”

“It was just one of those light bulb moments…” is how Daryl Hall describes the thought behind his web series Live from Daryl’s House. Inviting everyone from electrofunk duo Chromeo to guitar virtuoso Monte Montgomery up to his house in Connecticut to hang out, talk shop and sit in with “T-Bone” Wolk and the band all the while filming it for the most intimate and fun web series I’ve seen. John Oates even makes a couple of appearances in the monthly program. More than lip service, the series shows the soul shared in putting musicians in room to “just play.”


Links: Official Site | on MySpace | on iTunes