Wednesday, September 30, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #68: Letter From an Occupant by The New Pornographers

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #68: Letter From an Occupant by The New Pornographers (2000)

It seems as if new supergroups are forming every other week. Like how about that new Thom Yorke/Joey Waronker/Flea deal? That has crazy awesome potential right?

The New Pornographers were one of the first supergroups of the 2000s, and are still the best for my money, though Broken Social Scene, Postal Service, and Raconteurs could also argue for the title. By the way, do you realize how cutting edge green screen technology seemed earlier this decade? If you didn’t know it before, this video will remind you of the fact OVER and OVER. Honestly, this video may well have been a school project for the class One-Note Stunts 201.

They even do that ridiculously awful “throw an object from one frame and catch it in the next” stunt! Genius.

I’m all for generic backgrounds (park, construction site, shoreline, etc.) but I like to imagine the director being especially demanding with his needed background for the bridge of the song. You get me a night-time hard court tennis surface, goddammit!* So help me, if you give me a grass court I will lose my mind!

*This could in theory be an outdoor basketball court. I can’t tell with the quick cuts.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #51: 1901 by Phoenix

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #51: 1901 by Phoenix (2009)

Take a look at this screengrab I pulled tonight. The google self-complete function has the title of the latest Phoenix album as outranking that of the actual composer that said album is named after. Sorry Mozart, let us know when the Requiem Mass in D Minor gets used to sell Cadillacs and maybe you'll come out on top on the buzz index then.

I tend to have a tough time getting through any type of dancey, synth pop album. It seems to more of an issue with these types of bands than any other genres. Even when I find a song or two or three to be particularly outstanding, by the end of an album it all tends to blend together and I just get bored. I'm reminded of this during any prolonged exposure to bands like Phoenix, LCD Soundsystem, MGMT, or Passion Pit. I usually really like the songs themselves, but when they're all played together in album form, I zone out. (Also, most of these bands write lyrics that are either toss away lines, or ridiculously terrible, so that adds to the cumulative weariness.)

That said, this Phoenix album in particular does quite a bit to combat my weariness. The first two tracks off the album have flooded the late night talk show circuit and they've nearly reached blogosphere saturation, but the songs still hold up. From a visual perspective, the light show of the "1901" video is an unenthusiastic by-the-numbers clip, but then again, it's tough to compete with the Brat Pack mashup of "Lisztomania."

Monday, September 28, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #32: Styrofoam Plates by Death Cab For Cutie

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #32: Styrofoam Plates by Death Cab For Cutie (2001)

Have you ever been to a funeral or showing for someone who was a complete asshole? It's a fascinating concept that even when a terrible person dies, a funeral home or designated house of worship will be occupied with people engaging in perverse amnesia about the decedent. This is the case no matter how awful the person lived their life. People will say things like "He always called a spade a spade," and everyone will chuckle and nobody will question a) what the hell that phrase even means, and b) why it is that everyone in the room wants to pretend like they enjoyed this person in life.

Nevertheless, Ben Gibbard will not stand silently while such a ruse is perpetrated! Spirits from the grave be damned, this man is here to spit the fiery truth. He'll do so in prototypical Death Cab form, where the vitriolic lyrics are counterbalanced with sweeping arpeggios and slight rhythmic accents, eventually climaxing in a cathartic explosion. It's a tribute that would make John Bender proud. Real talk!

Styrofoam Plates, from the documentary Drive Well, Sleep Carefully

Saturday, September 26, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entries #99: Pillar of Salt by The Thermals AND #100: Thrash Unreal by Against Me!

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entries are #99: Pillar of Salt by The Thermals (2006) AND #100: Thrash Unreal by Against Me! (2007).

This is a double entry to cover both today and tomorrow! Both of these albums are excellent in their own right, but both also left me with a familiar feeling. It's the impression you get from a band when you think to yourself "The 16-year-old version of me would think this was the greatest thing ever."

Starting with Against Me!, the first time I heard New Wave, I thought to myself "This is a band who was clearly listening to NOFX and Mr. T Experience at the same age I was." While I haven't felt the urge to listen to either of those bands in years, one still holds a fondness for the dozens of car rides soundtracked by something that allowed you to feel critically superior to classmates rolling around with the soundtrack to Murder Was the Case masquerading as legitimate hip-hop. So while I feel a bit old to be the target audience for the Against Me! album, the songs are there, and it's comforting that some adolescents will relate to this album the way I related to Punk in Drublic.

Thrash Unreal

The Thermals wear their 1990's heritage proudly as well, as the Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and Green Day covers at Pitchfork fest proved. The influence of Operation Ivy, Bad Religion, and Fugazi come through nicely, with a substantial dose of biblically influenced lyrics. They also put together one of the most creative videos of '07, which is proof that even a band playing in a white room can be a compelling watch, budget be damned.

Pillar of Salt

What's the greatest thing about this video? The dancing baby? The non-dancing Colin Meloy? No sir. Check again around the 43 second mark.


It's nearly as touching as hanging a "Family Love Michael" banner.

Friday, September 25, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #73: Good Weekend by Art Brut

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #73: Good Weekend by Art Brut (2005)

I spent Halloween night 2007 at The Metro, seeing The Hold Steady and Art Brut – an outstanding double bill of bands whose lead singers talk as much as (or more than) they actually sing. Eddie Argos spent the performance donning an Elvis jumpsuit and spending nearly as much time in the crowd as he did on stage. Needless to say, it was one of the more entertaining performances I've ever seen from a front man wearing no shoes on his socks.

Bang Bang Rock and Roll is a perhaps the most “meta” rock album in years. It’s not a comedy album, but few albums contain more brilliantly funny lines, simultaneously mocking and embracing the fodder that has launched a million rock songs. "Formed a Band" opens the album by doing little more than literally shouting out "Look at us. We formed a band!" "My Little Brother" laments the sibling who just discovered rock and roll, and as a result "no longer listens to A-sides." The title cut even takes the piss out The Velvet Underground.

But I'm most partial to "Good Weekend." Few victory cries ring with as much pure joy as Argos' exclamation: "I've seen her naked! Twice!" You wouldn't get that from Lou Reed.

Art Brut - Good Weekend

Thursday, September 24, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #80: Elevator Love Letter by Stars

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #80: Elevator Love Letter by Stars (2003)

I really can't believe that the decade has passed without this song being used in a shitty teen romantic comedy or MTV faux-reality show. It's got all the components for any awful screenwriter, in that the song can trigger an emotional response that would be otherwise vacant based on a brutally lazy script. Propulsive mellow beats, and a smooth back and forth between the rich girl who doesn't know how to love, and the man who is do eloquently hard for said rich girl. It's got all the makings to create that tension in an early 2000's film, where Jennifer Love Hewitt/Julia Stiles/Katie Holmes could look into the vacant eyes of Freddie Prinze/Freddie Prinze/Freddie Prinze and know that what may have started as a stupid bet, could become so much more at the big after-prom party.

In other words, congrats to Stars for surviving in an area where so many other bands have met their focus group-approved demise.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #53: Twilight by Elliott Smith

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #53: Twilight by Elliott Smith (2004)

Elliott Smith - Twilight (mp3)

You don't deserve to be lonely
But those drugs you got won't make you feel better
Pretty soon you'll find it's the only
Little part of your life you're keeping together

By most accounts, the songs that would become From a Basement on the Hill were each in various stages of post-production when Elliott Smith died. This is the most likely explanation for the jarring tonal shifts throughout the album. You get the sense from listening that Smith had a vision for certain sounds and was able to put them into some songs, but many others likely contain production elements added after he died by who knows how many people, creating a muddled result. The songs aren’t bad (though they’re also not his best) but when put together, the lack of cohesion makes it sound like a compilation collection as opposed to an actual album. (Oddly, New Moon – the actual compilation released 3 years after Basement – has a far more consistent flow.) The disconnect is evident from opener “Coast to Coast,” which has all the hooks one would expect, but is buried with overdubs and echo that distract and overpower the melody. Perhaps the wall of sound and overdubs was Smith's idea (it works much better later on "King's Crossing"), but the method is quickly abandoned from one song to the next, depriving the full work from a signature sound or identity.

Criticism aside, "Twilight" is justifiably the centerpiece of the album. I believe it's the oldest song on the album. I remember Elliott playing it live as far back as 2000, though at the time it appeared on setlists with the title “Somebody’s Baby,” leading me to temporarily wonder if he was covering Jackson Browne.

Luckily, "Twilight" also seems to be one of the few songs on Basement kept economically sparse production wise. There's no percussion, and strings are present but they're kept firmly in the background, serving as accents rather than focal points. The added ambiance (a recorded soundtrack of twilight) hovers just below the surface, never distracting from the double-tracked vocals.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #27: The '59 Sound by The Gaslight Anthem

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #27: The '59 Sound by The Gaslight Anthem (2008)

We've spent a considerable amount of time (and will spend much more in the next three months) analyzing what makes bands/albums/songs great. Sometimes it involves productions layers, nuanced lyrics, perhaps an emotional or visceral component impossible to quantify. Through this analyisis, one often attempts to utilize these small components as part of a larger musical truth (see yesterday's post for a refresher.) But once in a while you need a palate cleanser.

There's nothing particularly special about The Gaslight Anthem. They love Springsteen. They probably love Jimmy Eat World and The Replacements. Perhaps they're even fond of Eddie and The Cruisers. But there is something to be said for a band that has no obvious musical agenda, aside from straight forward rock songs. Their last album was one of the best of 2008, and they're even able to win over Dave in the span of a song. "What are you, the drummer?"

The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound (mp3)

Monday, September 21, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #3: Everything in Its Right Place by Radiohead

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #3: Everything in Its Right Place by Radiohead (2000)

Does anyone else find it weird that Radiohead has become so popular? I understand the critical acclaim, but the band’s pure commercial popularity seems like a clear anomaly within the commercial music industry, does it not? Especially when considering the trajectory of their career. The Bends remains their most immediately accessible album front to back. In fact, there’s a vocal segment of society who view everything the band has done since The Bends as having diminishing returns. I bought OK Computer the day it came out and I remember finding it hard to digest on the first couple listens; “Airbag" at least sounded somewhat similar to the band that released The Bends, but once "Paranoid Android" started, I didn’t quite know what to make of anything. I wasn’t alone in my initial resistance. The album was clearly a slow builder in terms of popularity. "Karma Police," the most popular single from the album, achieved buzz clip status for its video but still only made minor waves in terms of singles charts.

So when Kid A was released, I knew to expect the unexpected. And I was right. Any initial difficulty I had with the first listen of OK Computer was going to be compounded several times over, based on the opening notes of Kid A.

What was this? Was this a song? This sounds like robots. Did robots write and perform this song? Did I accidentally buy an Aphex Twin or Autechre album?

The questions multiplied throughout the entire album. Aside from “How to Disappear Completely” and “Idioteque,” there’s nothing here to indicate that this is the same band from OK Computer (let alone the same people that wrote “Creep.”) In fact, there’s very little here to indicate that it’s a BAND at all. The Pitchfork review of the album may have said it best:

It's cacophonous yet tranquil, experimental yet familiar, foreign yet womb-like, spacious yet visceral, textured yet vaporous, awakening yet dreamlike, infinite yet 48 minutes. It will cleanse your brain of those little crustaceans of worries and inferior albums clinging inside the fold of your gray matter. The harrowing sounds hit from unseen angles and emanate with inhuman genesis. When the headphones peel off, and it occurs that six men (Nigel Godrich included) created this, it's clear that Radiohead must be the greatest band alive, if not the best since you know who. Breathing people made this record!

The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, which is absolutely baffling. There were no singles released. No videos made for the album. No talk show performances. No blog buzz back in 2000. Numerous reviews used terms like "alienating" and "anti-rock" to describe it. And while it may in fact be an anti-rock album (whatever that means), the songs in their purest forms are far from alienating. The album version of Everything in Its Right Place is dense with looping vocals and disarming electronics, but when performed live, it transforms into a dance-rock showstopper.

The brilliance of this band has never surprised me, but the fact that they’ve become stadium headliners will always strike me as odd. Is there another legitimate stadium band in the world right now that is actually taken seriously as influential artists? Most are once great nostalgia acts whose catalog still holds up enough to tour on (The Stones, Springsteen), or sure ticket sellers of whom we expect no real effort in creating compelling work (U2, Coldplay.) Radiohead are not universally beloved, but they seem to be the only band in the world that truly has both commercial and artistic influence on everyone who makes or listens to music.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #94: Positive Jam by The Hold Steady

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #94: Positive Jam by The Hold Steady (2004)

The first song on a debut album must be a carefully chosen introduction. You want to grab the listener and say "This is our band. This is who we are, and this is what we have to say!" Based on this rationale, The Hold Steady seemed to have three points worth making when opening up Almost Killed Me.
  1. If Craig Finn had been your American History teacher, you could have covered the 1920s through 1990s in under two minutes. No rotating numbers on blackboards needed.
  2. Some f'd up stuff has gone down the last 80 years or so, and who wants to watch more mopey sad bastards on stage whining about it? This band is bringing the positivity! And they will show no signs of stopping in the future.
  3. They're going to do that weird thing where they use the band name as a lyric. This is a call to action. Hold Steady.

woke up in the 20s. there were flappers and fruits in white suits. it was right before the crash.
we got thrashed throughout the 30s. queuing up for soup in scabby sores. and they sent us off to war.
we came back in the 40s. there were wheelchairs, guns and tickertape. we poured it on the floor and made love to the interstates.
we got shiftless in the 50s. holding hands and going steady. twisting into dark parts of big midwestern cities.
tripped right through the 60s with some blissful little hippie. some kennedys got shot while you were screwing san francisco.
the 70s got heavy we woke up on bloody carpets. got tangled up in gaslines. i guess that's where it started.
the 80s almost killed me let's not recall them quite so fondly. some kennedy o.d. while we watched on mtv.
in the 90s we were wired and well connected. put it all down on technology and lost everything we invested.

It's a safe bet to assume this band will appear again in the countdown.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #70: The Authority Song by Jimmy Eat World

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #70: The Authority Song by Jimmy Eat World (2001)

I've been rather lucky and visited many nooks and cranies our world has to offer. I was surprised in a Las Vegas coffee shop by a vociferous Spaniard. I've felt the singular joy of having my wife mistaken for a local who's lost her umbrella in Oslo. I've been to the top of Mt. Fuji with two Britons and a Canadian in tow. I've toured the Sydney Olympic village with three swingin' chicks: one German, one Hungarian, and the third from Orange County, California. I've even told an anti-American, earthquake-rattled, Japanese railroad worker too busy to tell me when the train from Hiroshima would arrive to go f*ck himself.


No matter where I go, through happenstance conversation, geographical pride, or (evidently) tell-tale snippets of twang, these folks all learn one thing sooner or later. I'm from Indiana.

Indiana. On the banks of the Wabash, far away. Home of Colonel Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the intrepid midwestern troubadour, John Mellencamp. I've long felt that if the 19th state should ever desire to change its official song - which despite what you've heard from Jim Nabors isn't "Back Home Again" - it should go with "Authority Song" by Mellencamp. Sure, we'll trade allusions to bucolic upbringings for lines like "You don't need no strength/ you need to grow up, son," but I'm sure folk in the Crossroads of America would gladly put a hand over heart for JCM's lyrics. So, one might imagine my delight to hear Jimmy Eat World throw something called "The Authority Song" onto Bleed American.

* * *
There's a degree of songs in the world that are quite simply fun. When one hears them, they elicit nothing but unbridled - and usually beer-infested - joy. "The Authority Song" is one such number. Much is owed to the ringing Ah-ah-ahhs and Do-I-I-I-uh-I-hi's. Seriously, what is it about the overtly and overly girly voice - well displayed by one Rachel Haden - that makes a sucker of me?

The beer song comes in many varieties. In college you might have heard it pumping via duel pianos. More likely it'll come through the overpriced and underused equipment of a washed-up cover band. No matter the context or conveyance, the beer song is stuck right in the wheelhouse of every red-blooded American. "The Authority Song" is no different. The simplistically loping guitar line underscores a song that instantly begs white men everywhere to move not only their hips but shoulders. It's a beer song through and through. Pretension and obtuse lyrics are far, far away. Hell, it ends with Jim Adkins repeatedly asking, "I don't seem obvious, do I?"

The formula is simple: Guy. Girl. Bar. Done deal. All this and he pronounces it core-ter instead of qwour-ter.

What's not to love...especially if you're drunk?

Friday, September 18, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #56: Don't Stop Believin' by Petra Haden

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #56: Don't Stop Believin' by Petra Haden (2007)

Here’s something amazing to consider. For the first half of this decade, nobody gave a shit about this song. It was buried in early 80's nostalgia, perhaps comfortably nestled between "Heart and Soul" and "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)". "Don't Stop Believin'" was a piano bar novelty; if you heard it there, you were thrilled in an “I just remembered how much I love this song” type way. But aside from those annual Mardi Gras trips to The Big Bang, Journey remained comfortably on the fringe of nostalgic kitsch. Yet since 2005, the song has become unavoidable. It seems to be a baffling phenomenon. Yet it worked its way into three relatively major pop culture moments over a 20-month span. Observe:

  • It became was chosen as the official song of the 2005 White Sox playoff run, culminating in a world series title. Suddenly it was on network television for the better part of a month.
  • It was prominently featured on an episode of Laguna Beach as simply being the CD playing in someone’s car, prompting the teen demographic to amazingly launch the song into iTunes top 10 for the week.
  • The final scene of the final episode of The Sopranos. This was a show that chose soundtrack painstakingly for its entire run, usually favoring the old or obscure. And yet the lasting image comes from Tony Soprano playing Journey on a table-top jukebox.
Of course attendees of the 2005 Rafferty/Fletcher wedding at the Indianapolis Omni know that happened way before any of the three above occurrences. Have you ever been to a wedding where the bride literally walks down the aisle as this song plays? If you haven't, I can feel your jealousy burning through the screen, and I don't blame you. When I first heard the piano, I could barely contain my excitement.

So at this point, we're pretty well covered on the uses of "Don't Stop Believin'" within the media (I'm looking at you, cast of Glee.) But Petra Haden gets a pass for composing her rendition completely with a capella overdubs. I'd love to actually see her vocalizing the post-opening verse guitar shredding. Plus, who ever thought of tossing in a Wilson Phillips homage in the outro? Add in a video that's just cute enough to make you barf, and your initial weariness is worn down by the fact that the song still holds up.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #57: Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #57: Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective (2009)

Some time ago, I was telling a friend of my fondness for the song “All These Things That I Have Done.” She asked me if I was planning to see The Killers, who were touring at the time. I responded that I was not, because I don’t really like The Killers. I like that song, and “Mr. Brightside.” Other than that, I find their output mediocre at best.

Of course these dichotomies occur all the time when discussing different elements of art from a unifying source. I love “Boogie Nights," but have developed a healthy dislike for all other Paul Thomas Anderson work. I find Conan O'Brien brilliant, but cannot defend how "The Tonight Show" has been pretty terrible for most of the last three months. I used to think I really liked Weezer, but in actuality, I now wonder if I really only liked their first two albums.

At this point, Animal Collective have put themselves in this category. Which is to say, aside from a couple tracks, they kinda bore the shit out of me. Their set at Pitchfork in 2008 was decently entertaining, but a HUGE component of the appeal of that set was them getting to play after the sun went down, and with a decently entertaining light show accompanying their knob-twiddling. Had that set happened during the day, it would have been quite underwhelming. It would have come off similar to their daytime set at Lollapalooza this year, where from most reports they listlessly dicked around with one 10-minute jam after another, playing only 8 songs in an hour (and not the songs people wanted, at that.) Perhaps this band simply wants to become the indie electronica equivalent to Phish? If so, they’re on their way.

But I come here not to bury this band, since as I said they do have a few stellar tracks. "Summertime Clothes” being a great example. Unlike some of their more meandering compositions, the hooks and melodies are here in abundance, while maintaining the layered loops of their past sound. It also allowed for people in giant bags to dance on the Late Show. The only thing more entertaining than the interpretive dance is the demeanor of Dave afterward, letting you know he hates the song without just coming out and saying it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #8: Lua by Bright Eyes

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #8: Lua by Bright Eyes (2005)

Bright Eyes - Lua (mp3)

I originally moved to Chicago from Connecticut in the first days of 2005. I lived here less than four freezing months. This Bright Eyes album (along with Funeral) basically served as my soundtrack for the quick stay. In fact, when I think about my time living in that terrible Chicago apartment, there are two images that immediately come to mind:

The first image is that of listening to “Lua” on my iPod on the El ride and subsequent freezing walk home from work at 1 or 2AM during those few months. The song is lonely, sparse and desolate, stunning in its simplicity. Every aspect of this song lends itself to introspective walks home, even when not accompanied by a skinny junkie.

The second image is that of waking up the day I left Chicago and wondering who had robbed my apartment.

I rolled out of bed hung over and with 3 hours sleep from the previous night’s going away party. I walked into my living room. My couch, chair, and ottoman had vanished. I stood over the imprints in the discolored gray carpet and tried to piece together what the hell had happened. It seemed…let’s say highly improbable that someone could have robbed me while I slept. But perhaps it happened while I was out the night before, and I was too drunk to notice when I stumbled in? Still, that theory seemed highly improbable. Who would take furniture (let alone shitty, old furniture) yet leave the television behind untouched? Slowly the pieces of the previous evening fell into place.

I remember the birds were chirping. I exited the taxi in front of my apartment around 5am. This was not good. I needed to leave the next morning, and still had plenty that needed to be done before leaving the apartment.

Back during the next morning, the images started to form over the next 10 to 15 minutes. I recalled sections of the previous night’s inner monologue after walking into my 4th floor apartment...

"Son of a bitch. I need to get rid of all this tomorrow. Fucking Salvation Army. I couldn’t even get those assholes to come pick this up! I thought they were a charity! What kind of charity flat out turns down donations because they don’t want to pick them up! This is absolute madness. I’m going to need people to help me haul all this shit into the alley across the street just because the Salvation Army would rather wave a white flag than spend 30 minutes taking this crap. A perfectly usable bed! Put a throw blanket on the couch and it’s good as new. How can they call themselves a charity! I’m going to be in miserable shape tomorrow. There is NO WAY I’ll be in any shape to move furniture tomorrow, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to ask anyone to help me just because the Salvation Army doesn’t want to help out society by offering up a cheap couch or bed. Fuck it. This shit need to be gone and it needs to be gone NOW!"

It took three trips. One for the chair. One for the ottoman. And one complete bitch of a couch. There is an elevator in my apartment, approximately 50 feet from my door. I remember being inside the elevator with the couch propped onto it’s side, but still don’t quite remember how I carried it into or out of the elevator itself. Some people are angry drunks. Some people are overly affectionate. Some pick fights or admit secrets that should remain buried. I apparently haul furniture.

I like to imagine that an ambitious runner woke up at 5am to take a Saturday morning jog. In my mind, said jogger ran past the corner of Pine Grove and Cornelia, and would he or she have glanced to the north, they would have seen a relatively intoxicated man single-handedly carrying a couch across the damn street to the adjacent alley. And what a glorious image that would have been.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #74: Chicago X 12 by Rogue Wave

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #74: Chicago X 12 by Rogue Wave (2007)

Dear Lord, I can't believe we're only on day 15 of this. It seems like we've written much more. I'll be buckling down more tomorrow to try and power through a healthy chunk of the next entries, but today is a quick one. Bob Odenkirk wants to direct the new Rogue Wave video. Here is his "Billy Don't Lose My Number" style pitch. Also, this is the second song thus far in the countdown to include a Karate Kid reference. Mercy is for the weak.

Bob Odenkirk's - Rogue Wave "Chicago x 12"

Monday, September 14, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #30: 1,000,000 by Nine Inch Nails

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #30: 1,000,000 by Nine Inch Nails (2008)

I spent the decade of the 1990s with little more than a passing interest in Nine Inch Nails. I bought a used copy of The Downward Spiral at Berry’s Music more out of an implied demographic obligation than any real enjoyment. While the “Closer” video remains one of the more arresting visuals to ever get heavy rotation on MTV, I never saw much at the time to separate NIN from the other industrial hackneyed artists of the decade, no matter how often Dave Nelson sang the praises of Pretty Hate Machine. Too much of NIN’s output struck me as overly indulgent dicking around. It’s not that I thought Trent Reznor was a bad songwriter; it’s just that he put a lot of crap on albums that didn’t seem cohesively written in any sense. Still, I was intrigued at last year’s Lollapalooza to see if the more recent buzz about NIN’s creative upswing would finally click for me. The set opened with this song:

Will someone please find a wall I can run though? Because I do believe I am fired up.

The rest of that Lollapalooza show was just as tremendous, but this was the track that stuck with me.

If “Hurt” was a young emo soul’s introspective plea into the ether, “1,000,000” is that same soul hardened by an additional 14 years. No longer weeping like a child, but lashing back in aggressiveness, even while maintaining the escapist desire in “Hurt.” (It can't be a coincidence that both songs reference feeling “a million miles away,” can it?) Reznor’s songwriting has gotten progressively better even as his sales have decreased. Of course he's also gotten sober, which I would think might make one more productive. He seems to be ending NIN (for now) on a high note, though rock band “retirements” are usually taken about as seriously as those of boxers.

1,000,000 is available on the album The Slip, which is available for free at It's not a bad deal.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #39: The Lure Would Prove Too Much by The Twilight Singers

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #39: The Lure Would Prove Too Much by The Twilight Singers (2007)

Certain bands make the transition to visual soundtracks particularly well. The Rolling Stones are perhaps the poster children of excellence through film, as a scientific poll conducted exclusively by me has found the Stones to sound 87% better on film soundtracks than simply on their own. More recently, the Explosions in the Sky/Friday Night Lights merger has led to a sum greater than the individual components. Likewise, it’s no coincidence that the Swell Season album failed to create much initial buzz, but when those same songs were put on-screen in Once a year later, they clearly connected on a more powerful level. And I can't possibly be the only one who hears Cat Stevens in that cell phone ad and immediately thinks "I'd like to watch Harold and Maude right now." While Grey’s Anatomy, The Hills, and TV ads have turned the integration into a pattern of underwhelming cross-promotion, the marriage of music and film still holds quite a bit of weight when done properly

Greg Dulli’s songs always strike me as stunningly cinematic in nature. True, each of them basically seem to be about either sex or drugs, but the composition of each is epic in overall grittiness and layering. When I am made the President of Movies, I will dictate that every scene containing the protagonist coming to grips with his or her place in the world be scored with an Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers/Gutter Twins selection.

I am not alone in this line of thinking, as Denis Leary has proven. Not only did he help Dulli get cast in the underwhelming Monument Ave., but he's used full Twilight Singers tracks in multiple Rescue Me scenes. This scene from last season showcases The Lure Would Prove To Much, and it proves a few theories:

1. Slow-motion always looks better.
2. Slow-motion FIRE always looks AMAZING.
3. Does anyone else share my fear that death may come from the inability to pull ones self up with just ones fingertips? This scene does nothing to lessen my uneasiness.
4. It's got to be a great feeling when writing a script to just put down "6-minute Twilight Singers montage" and let the director figure it out. That's three less pages of work!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #66: No Children by The Mountain Goats

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #66: No Children by The Mountain Goats(2002)

Today I am at a friend’s wedding in Saratoga, New York. And on this special day, it seems only natural to celebrate with perhaps the happiest divorce-based tune I’ve ever heard.

The Mountain Goats - No Children (mp3)

I hope that our few remaining friends
Give up on trying to save us
I hope we come up with a failsafe plot
To piss off the dumb few that forgave us
I hope the fences we mended
Fall down beneath their own weight
And I hope we hang on past the last exit
I hope it's already too late
And I hope the junkyard a few blocks from here
Someday burns down
And I hope the rising black smoke carries me far away
And I never come back to this town
Again in my life
I hope I lie
And tell everyone you were a good wife
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

I hope I cut myself shaving tomorrow
I hope it bleeds all day long
Our friends say it's darkest before the sun rises
We're pretty sure they're all wrong
I hope it stays dark forever
I hope the worst isn't over
And I hope you blink before I do
Yeah I hope I never get sober
And I hope when you think of me years down the line
You can't find one good thing to say
And I'd hope that if I found the strength to walk out
You'd stay the hell out of my way
I am drowning
There is no sign of land
You are coming down with me
Hand in unlovable hand
And I hope you die
I hope we both die

Friday, September 11, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #19: Heartbeat by Annie

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #19: Heartbeat by Annie(2004)

(NOTE: Today’s post was originally centered around one of my favorite recent Tom Waits songs, and it’s relation to my trip to Kuwait. But after reading it back, and in light of today's date, the whole thing was as depressing as…well, as a Tom Waits song. So I decided to change courses and tell a story about the worst concert-going experience I ever had. This story is in no way related to “Heartbeat” by Annie, which is three minutes and six seconds of Norwegian electropop perfection, and can be downloaded here.)

I still had shampoo in my hair. My roommate told me it was an emergency, so I stepped out of the bathroom in mid-shower to answer the supposedly urgent phone call. I picked the handset up off the table. Dan’s first words to me were shouted maniacally.
“Those assholes left me! We were in the car behind them and they floored it on the interstate! I couldn't keep up with them! They have our tickets, and I have no idea how to find them once we get there!”
Why he chose to call me is still unclear. None of us had cell phones in 1998, so if his roommates had in fact left him and his friend Nic behind, there wasn’t much anyone could do, let alone me. But I had nothing to do this particular Saturday, so he picked me up and were off to Chicago.

The fall of junior year was a complete fiasco within the apartment of four of my best friends. They had bought tickets to the October show within the first week of classes, and in the 6 weeks in between, the apartment had become a war zone. It’s a fact: hooking up with a roommate’s (very recent) ex is counter-productive to the morale of roommates. Another less-than-healthy component? A French foreign-exchange student crashing on the couch while civil unrest reigns throughout the four-room suite.

We entered Indiana enjoying the scenics of I-70, five hours away from the Rosemont Horizon in the western burbs of Chicago.
“I know I mentioned this on the phone, but I am NOT going to this show,” I reminded Dan.
“That’s fine. We’ll find them and find our tickets, then we’ll sell them and hang out in Chicago.”
“Why aren’t we going to the show? I want to go,” Nic the foreign-exchange student chimed in. It sounded much more whiny when grounded in his French accent.
“Because I’m not paying for a ticket,” I maintained. “And because you don’t even HAVE your tickets. And you have no way to find the other roommates and get your tickets.”

It’s not often that I steadfastly refuse to see a show. But this was no normal show. This was the inaugural Family Values tour. There was a reason that I didn't buy tickets in the first place. Need a refresher on the lineup for the showcase?

Do yourself a favor. Go back and read each of those names again. Amazing, right? I imagine this tour as a "State of the Union" style grouping of the heavy hitters in shitty nu metal; one in which Slipknot were forced to take shelter at a secure location at the time, so that someone would be able to assume office should tragedy ever strike a Family Values venue. I digress...

316 miles after departing, we pulled into the parking lot and walked toward the front doors. Considering that the other car had sped away from Dan on the interstate, and that Dan had turned around to pick me up AFTER getting left behind, we knew that the 3 roommates had to be inside already. Dan and Nic stood seething, while I was silently elated. We waited for about another 20 minutes before deciding to head back to the car.

Then we saw the roommates approaching the arena.

I was in complete disbelief. And I wasn’t the only one. As shocked as I was to see them, they seemed much more surprised to see me, considering that I had no business being a part of this road trip in the first place. My shock quickly turned to dread, as about 15 seconds after seeing them, I realized that this meant my night was going to immediately turn for the worst. Because now Dan and Nic had their tickets. And I knew they weren’t going to sell them. Because I am friends with liars. Liars with occasionally shitty, shitty taste in music.

Dan and Nic chipped in to buy my ticket. However, this was not a general admission show, so not only would I be witnessing a rotating lineup of hacks, each less talented than those preceding, I would be witnessing the musical abortion by myself.

The show itself was mostly a blur. Obviously it goes without saying that it was all beyond terrible. Even more horrendous was the fact that although the group had initially decided to stay overnight in Chicago, we felt the wiser move would be to leave Chicago at midnight and head directly back to Dayton. I’ve done several things in my life that could be classified as “beyond stupid,” but it’s hard to think of many that topped this. All three of us took turns sleeping on the ride home – the main issue being that I was still driving during the majority of my cat naps. At a Greenfield gas station, I’d had enough, yelling at Dan in the backseat.
“We are going to die if I keep driving. You’ve been sleeping for 4 hours. You need to go the rest of the way.”

He groggily agreed and took over for the final hour and change. I passed out in the back seat and tried forget the last 20 hours of my life, hoping we would make it back to the Darkside before exchanging pleasantries with a guardrail.

I looked at the clock after walking in the front door. It was now past 6:30am. I collapsed on the couch and ran my hand through my hair. My fingers caught on a small clump of dried shampoo behind my ear.

"Middle fingers on the count of three! Unless you're wearing a red hat!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #72: Die, All Right! by The Hives

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #72: Die, All Right! by The Hives(2000)


It's a funny little word from a funny little land. According to these outdoorsy knitters (6:10), you're unlikely to hear it anywhere but their universal healthcare infused, beautiful people laden Scandinavian kingdom. That's because the philosophy of lagom - roughly the happily accepted idea that all is well when things are good, and not necessarily great - exists only in one language and one place.


I've been there, and can attest that the Swedes are quite happy at present to be happy. They're officially neutral these days (70 wars in one 100 year stretch must have worn them out). The weather isn't as cold or as bad as we perceive. They really do make smashing meatballs (see above). And whatever music they love, they f*ckin' love it. Beyond that, it's all about what maintains the everpresent and everpleasant lagom.

All that makes The Hives such an anomaly.

Don't get me wrong. I'm pretty certain this Swedish quintet is selling the sizzle as made manifest in this all too scrumptious declaration scrolling on MTV-sized video screens, "The Hives are law. You are crime." Add to that the contrived black and white motif and the Mick Jagger infused gesticulations of a frontman that calls himself Howlin' Pelle Almqvist, and we're pretty certain that some of the appeal lies in the presentation.

The majority of Veni Vedi Vicious kept the Hives true to form as the tip of the spear on the revitalization of garage rock. With originals like "The Hives-Declare Guerre Nucleaire," "Statecontrol," and "Main Offender" and a cover of Jerry Butler's "Find Another Girl" (whose original version sounds like The Ventures backing Sammy Davis, Jr.) it's hard to ignore the brazen contrast of modern showmanship yet loyalty to roots stretching back decades.

So, I guess it's in this hell-fire stage presence mixing with molotov cocktails of civility that we get The Hives. They'll pump their fists on stage, but they'll make sure there's a pinky extended.

Don't try to understand it. It's lagom.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #98: The Righteous Path

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #98: The Righteous Path by Drive-By Truckers(2008)

“I like all types of music except country.”

I’ve heard this statement many times from friends/colleagues/people I’ve stalked on Facebook. For the most part, people who say this are completely wrong, but don’t really think about why they’re misguided. People (for the most part) don’t dislike country music; they dislike that which is marketed as country music. This was far less of a problem decades ago when there were fewer genre lines to blur.

Hank Williams.
Johnny Cash.
Dolly Parton.
Ray fuckin’ Stevens.

Nobody who actually likes music dislikes these artists. But within the last 20 years, the most compelling country music has largely been rejected by Nashville, spawning the sub-genre “alt-country,” which when you actually think about it, would be more accurate were it simply renamed "more-often-than-not, good country." Listen to Uncle Tupelo or Whiskeytown (and even their respective progressions into early Wilco and solo Ryan Adams) and the music shares the best aspects of country music roots to a far greater degree than Kenny Chesney or Taylor Swift, does it not?

Ultimately, the declining quality of country music radio is not much different from the similar decline of pop or R&B radio. As the song-writing gets shittier, it becomes easier for the public to digest. This is not good or bad. It just simply is. And yet, because it is, it seems more surprising to hear a country band who actually says things worth saying.

My first exposure to Drive-By Truckers was a year ago, when they co-headlined a tour with The Hold Steady, and immediately felt embarrassed for not getting into them earlier in their career. (NOTE: The other take-away from that show was how odd it felt seeing two bands actually having so much fun on stage.) The unabashed influence of Skynyrd has allowed many to classify the Truckers as “southern rock,” but this is a country band. They're just not a band that fits what country has become.

The band's most recent album, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, is probably the most complete of their career. "That Man I Shot" is a lyrical masterpiece about war that sympathizes equally with the soldier who has been shot, and the one who shot him, taking into account that the "kill or be killed" nature of battle doesn't make the playback any easier to view repeatedly in one's minds eye. Clearly this wouldn't quite fit in preceding the new smash hit of Toby Keith date raping the U.S. Flag while stickin' it to the brown folks.

Yet “The Righteous Path” seems like a tailor-made smash hit. The lyrics are straight forward and brilliant in their simplicity: a blue-collar, God-fearing man living a daily struggle and hanging on alongside his friends and neighbors. But the words don’t patronize their subjects, or condescend to the listener. There’s no Fox News-style “real America” pomp, which in turn doesn't allow for Daily Koz-esque simplifying of Red State mentalities. Like their former tourmates The Hold Steady, the characters the Truckers write for seem overwhelmingly authentic. And that authenticity is likely what keeps them from coming up in the rotation after the latest Rascal Flatts single.

Drive-By Truckers - The Righteous Path (mp3)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #62: Chasing Heather Crazy by Guided By Voices

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #62: Chasing Heather Crazy by Guided By Voices(2001)

Guided By Voices - Chasing Heather Crazy (mp3)

Two points to be made here:

1. I'm not sure why, but I find it bothersome that "Glad Girls" (also off Isolation Drills) has somehow, through TV and commercial use, become the most popular GBV song. I find it to be one of the laziest efforts of the band's career.

2. My senior year in college, my roommates and I spent every Monday night bringing a local band into the UD television studio, and recording them live for a television/radio simulcast. Week after week, this proved to be a complete clusterfuck, as we were literally setting up all cables, connections and feeds with no more than 5 people (and usually my roommate Asp was the only one who had any troubleshooting know-how.) Somehow the show always made it on-air on time, and always sounded and looked decent (even as I was learning live direction on the fly.) After booking Swearing at Motorists, we were satisfied we had reached the creative and commercial peak of the show. But while chatting up S@M singer Dave after their performance, he offered a suggestion.
(Image via Terri Nelles)
"You should ask Bob Pollard to be on."
"How would be go about doing that?" I asked, not expecting an answer.
"He's in the phone book."
"I'm sorry?"
"Yeah, he's in there. He's easy to recognize. The guy actually lives on Titus Avenue."

My roommate Asp quickly grabbed a White Pages, and found it to be true! This was insane. Instead of going through TVT Records like a respectable professional, he called Bob's home number, got an answering machine and left a message, which in retrospect was pretty delusional in nature. Clearly the story was going to end there.

The next day, during my office hours I got a phone call.
"This is Bob's wife. I got the message somebody left for him yesterday"
[I stammered in a semi-coherent manner, simultaneously apologizing for calling the guy's home, while still extending the invitation.]
"Well he's out of town right now, but I'll make sure he calls you back when he gets home next week."

Clearly this could not actually be his wife. I suspected a friend was messing with us. Who would call BACK a couple idiots from a college radio station, JUST to tell them that you got their message and would relay it on? No, none of this was adding up! It didn't make sense. A week went by and we had dropped it. Until...

I walked into the office. The back door was closed. The news director smiled at me.
"Asp is on the phone with Bob Pollard."

We sat in the other room for about 5 minutes, waiting for the red light on line 3 to go out. When it finally went blank, Asp emerged from the back room.

No dice. Pollard's current rhythm section lived in Cleveland, so getting them to drive down for a show that they wouldn't be paid for, and would only extend to the airwaves of Dayton proper wasn't exactly feasible. When the possibility of a solo performance was brought up, Pollard said that he never performs by himself, due to extreme stage fright that can only be fought with copious amounts of alcohol (a claim I find shocking!)

So in the end, we didn't score the big get. It wasn't meant to be. But the man himself called us back! And was far nicer than he needed to be! In reality, he probably did us a favor. We were due to completely screw up the broadcast at some point down the line; luckily when it all went to shit, it wouldn't happen in front of Uncle Bob.

Monday, September 07, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #23: This Tornado Loves You by Neko Case

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #23: This Tornado Loves You by Neko Case(2009)

In one of the deleted scenes from Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman states, Nobody likes both Elvis and The Beatles equally. Somewhere you have to make a choice." I prefer this comparison much more the more tired Beatles vs Stones debate, because I can understand someone being an "Elvis person" as opposed to a "Beatles person," but can't fathom how anyone would honestly think the Stones superior.

But to branch from that template, I can't help but wonder if a similar comparison exists within the realm of Canadian female song-writers who moonlight with indie supergroups. Is it possible that you're either a Neko Case person or a Feist person? Or can one truly like them both the same?

If forced to choose, I'm reserving my spot on Team Neko. She may not sell as many iPods as her Calgary-an (?) counterpart, but who else could sing so effortlessly while personifying an unrelentingly destructive force of nature?

Also, this:

Greatest album cover of the decade? I think so. Although there are a few worthy competitors...

Any other nominees for best packaging art the last 10 years? Or does such a title even apply in the era of by-passing tangible media?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #88: Lights Out for Darker Skies by British Sea Power

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #88: Lights Out for Darker Skies by British Sea Power(2008)

When your uninsulated, paper walls aren't separating you from your neighbors there's one place to go: Deo Deo.

For about 1000 Yen you can pick up a pair of pleather-bound, over the ears headphones. At least you could when you were a mere expatriated chap forging out an adulthood in Fukuyama.

Oh, what a decade can do to some plastic and wires.

Those same headphones are now withering, still technologically sound but the general appearance is a bit embarrassing. For over a year, they've left tiny bits of black on your ears so your listening doth not disturb the latest episode of Ace of Cakes. Two nights ago you went to strap them on and one aural muff simply fell completely off. It might be time for a new pair...or a new metaphor.

* * *

Practically a decade ago I was awash in new music. College will do that to you. Summerteeth pushed me fully into my post-punk days and the ethereal Reinhold Messner allowed me to accept the unexpected. Frankinatra, a now-defunct pre-blog website, was still piping out the likes of Beulah and the Magnetic Fields on its mix tapes, while frequent trips to a used record - yes the 33 1/3 kind - store on the third floor of Caspa made me regret not owning a turntable while I sifted yet again through the myriad of CD's from the Jayhawks and Velvet Underground.

Music came easily. And went.

* * *

"Lights Out for Darker Skies" is a microcosmic sample of my current musical pursuits. I can hear the influence of multiple decades from the on-again, off-again lead guitar melodies to the post-modern mash-up of hyphenated genres. At times flirting with an OK Computer-esque use of movements but falling reliably back into the verse-chorus-verse realm of the Pixies, it's got a bit for everyone. And just for good measure, BSP throws in the obtuse lyric hither and yon

Welcome for the day or stay forever,
There's things which we all need to navigate
Daisy chains of lights around the city now,
They glow but never quite illuminate,
So dance like sparks from the muzzle

Wishy washy grasps of the present. Homages to the band name. Unsafe electrical practices. Some might begin to agree with those in snarkademia and think this is just an also-ran amalgam of indie rock. But there's something here.

I think I was finally sold at the four-minute mark where I was willing to muddle through something as flirtatiously trite as "We walked under neon skies" to hear the disparate players frenetically coalesce to remind me, "Hey now, now. Oh the future's bright."

Feel the return of those Brit-pop/Manchester/Cure-ish guitar riffs and I've found a song to like for no other reason than it sounds good in my ears.

Hey now now. Oh the future's bright.

* * *
It's a 2007 weekday evening, sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 and Marketplace is on NPR. They've used some bump music that sounds incredibly familiar, but a quick glance at the website and visit to the iStore proves that what's old is new again and what you thought was, was not, but is.

Time to strap on those feeble, old headphones and realize that despite your fading musical relevance, providence is bringing you good music albeit through listener-supported radio and not the hip kid in ENG 409.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #12: International Players Anthem by UGK (featuring OutKast)

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #12: International Players Anthem by UGK featuring OutKast (2007)

I was going to write a video commentary here similar to the Bat For Lashes entry, but I quickly realized that it would take me approximately FOREVER to write about every moment that required further commentary. Do I start by exploring Andre 3000’s Scottish heritage? Or T-Pain’s skill in leading a gospel choir? Or Lukas Haas’ puzzling groomsman status? What about a head-to-head comparison of the wedding cake destruction here, with the similar act in the November Rain video?

As you can see, it’s an undertaking that just won’t quit, so I’ll let the images speak for themselves. I’ll simply say that when I get married, I imagine the day playing out EXACTLY like this. Though I might have a couple more pimps in attendance.

Int'l Players Anthem - UGK (mp3)

Friday, September 04, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #34: Encore by Danger Mouse

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #34: Encore by Danger Mouse (2004)

Is The Grey Album the best album of the decade? Most people would say, “No, of course not. What kind of a stupid question is that?” These people would likely be correct (although they don’t need to be quite so hostile! It’s a valid question, hypothetical assholes I just invented.) While it’s probably not the best, it probably encapsulates the decade better than any other album released in the last 10 years.

Before the end of 2009, there will no doubt be a plethora of articles attempting to summarize music of the decade from a technological standpoint. This is the decade of the mp3, file-sharing, and online music sales. Yet for the most part, technology really hasn’t changed the actual musical output that much. Instruments and production stays relatively consistent. Even electronica artists using the latest synths or sequencers likely could have come close to producing identical sounds 10 years ago (though the technology to do so would have been far more expensive at the time.) That said, the art of the mash-up could have only flourished in this decade, where affordable software and a capella tracks allow one to cut and paste to their hearts content with relative ease. And as the music is created in a manner that is fully “of” the decade, the manner of distribution has taken every advantage of the file-sharing/torrent evolution of online music, pissing off music execs of every level, who never gave a shit about mash-ups or mixtapes until people actually took interesting them.

Girl Talk has dominated the later half of the decade, with his obvious appeal stemming from his unlimited library and the quick-changing joy of hopping from one artist to another before you can catch your breath. The Grey Album however is the polar opposite of a Girl Talk effort. By limiting himself to using music from The White Album, and ONLY The White Album, it’s a masterful exercise in discipline that shows skill beyond what most DJs are able to showcase. Danger Mouse works through the album with surgical focus, lifting out a kick drum here or vocal affect there.

And oh by the way, it can’t be ignored that Danger Mouse swung for the fences by choosing a music bed solely provided by the greatest fucking band that ever existed. He could have easily impressed the masses by choosing The Joshua Tree or The Bends, but instead he goes all in, risking the disgrace of being the asshole who slaughtered The Beatles if it didn’t work. Instead he infuses energy into the “Glass Onion”/”Savoy Truffle” hybrid. It proves that The White Album holds up better than any album of the time, and simultaneously creates the best album by the biggest rapper of the decade. Not to mention the fact that he royally pissed off EMI, which is pretty great.

Danger Mouse - Encore (m4a)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #7: Daniel by Bat For Lashes

Full Details of the BIBJ Millennial Playlist Hullabaloo are available here. Today's entry is #7: Daniel by Bat For Lashes (2009)

One thing that's always made Bjork more compelling than 95% of other artists is her video catalogue. Nobody else can be counted on to routinely put out one amazing video after another, each which attempts to "out-crazy" the last. And they all pretty much succeed. But it's been awhile since her last album, and I think we all needed a hungry new ingenue to pick up the baton for avant-garde, inexplicable sequences. And Bat For Lashes has stepped up to the plate.

It all seems like one surrealistic, dream-like mess, right? But let's examine further and fully dissect the subtleties of the direction.

Every time you see a musical artist wearing their own merchandise, it just kinda makes you generally uncomfortable, right? Yet when said merch simultaneously pays homage to The Karate Kid, it seems far more palatable.

40 seconds in and we're diving right in to embrace the weirdness. Human-like creatures cloaked in black, displaying oddly shaped growths. These are the same costumes worn by the Fruit of the Loom mascots when they meet up for disturbing Eyes Wide Shut parties.

Ominous cutaways to charred stuffed animals and ash-ridden furniture go unexplained. How did this fire take place? Did the bizarre Cirque du Soleil crew burn down a carnie booth?

Even the most avant-garde dance troupes can't pass up an opportunity for some old fashioned crowd surfing.

The running make up seems familiar to me. If only I could pinpoint what it reminds me of...

"I'm covered in black and I'm wearing an over-sized pool skimmer net on my head. I guess I showed you, didn't I, FATHER! Those summers at dance camp were NOT a waste!"

Black on black crime has broken out! Don't you get it? The fire may have destroyed the possessions, but the breakdown of your societal morals is far more destructive to the ENTIRE CULTURE of anonymous interpretive dance!

She has escaped for the moment, in a station wagon. And she didn't even need Elisabeth Shue to help start it by popping the clutch!

Oh this is how it is? The guy growing multiple heads won't take no for an answer, takes the concept of grabby hands to Chris Brown levels, and eventually the subject becomes aroused? I knew I was wasting my time trying to put together a lovely fucking picnic lunch date.

Suddenly she realizes, "We're so far removed from one another on the universal hotness scale, this can't possibly work out. But hey, we gave it a shot. I feel bad asking you to leave my car, so I'll just swerve violently until you fly out the window."

Hey, that guy's name is Daniel, and Daniel is also the name of the song! The fact that it's an oddly static Daniel look-a-like makes it seem creepier though, no? The backup option was to just insert archival Macchio in, Weezer-style.


You’re the best!
Nothing’s gonna ever keep you down
You’re the Best!

Bat For Lashes - Daniel (mp3) Removed by request of DMCA