Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

29 September, 2007

Totally and utterly non-random ten plus one playlist

I'm not leaving it up to iTunes to pick the songs today. Instead, I'd rather share some of the songs I'm regularly dialing up on the Pod and tell you why I'm digging them. And there's not a conservative or Catholic tune in the bunch.
  • "Welcome to the Terrordome" - Public Enemy: It's a rare song that captures a moment and place in time so vividly. Chuck D's apocalyptic recounting of the mean streets of New York back in the "bad old days" of the late '80s is perfectly complemented by the Bomb Squad's production, which evokes the cacophony of a disintegrating social environment.
  • "The Gash" - the Flaming Lips: The world's first and only psychedelic gospel march. I once read someone who stated that this song should be listened to very loud, sitting directly between the speakers after taking a giant bong rip. That sounds about right - the dense, swirling sounds perversely buoy the sweetness of of Wayne Coyne's plaintive lyrics.
  • "Windchimes" - Brian Wilson: Staying in the realm of psychedelia, this little gem from the Beach Boys' lost masterpiece (finally released in the last few years) manages to capture the expectancy of a person about to embark on a wild trip, focusing on the minutiae of the surrounding landscape until the world explodes around him.
  • "Caribou" - the Pixies: A narrative of self-loathing, the spartan production of this tune from their first EP creates a mournful atmosphere that accentuates the massive crescendo in the chorus, culminating in Black Francis's desperate cry of "Repent!"
  • "Negative Creep" - Nirvana: More self-loathing (but really, what in Nirvana's catalog isn't about that?), but furious. The only thing that would make this song more perfect is morphing back into an angry sixteen year, huffing glue, and flipping off my parents while listening to it.
  • "Bread and Roses" - Utah Phillips and Ani DiFranco: Of all the labor hymns, this is the one that affects me the most. This memorialization of the Lawrence mill strike is a stirring testament of feminine (and human) dignity that never fails to make my skin tingle or bring a mist to my eyes. DiFranco's sympathetic accompaniment only underscores Phillip's sonorous baritone.
  • "Must Be The Moon" - !!!: A wry accounting a hook-up born on the dancefloor, this song is sexy as fuck. It's a driving piece of dance punk made all the more compelling by the layers of processed guitar drone.
  • "Hey Ladies" - the Beastie Boys: A hilarious send-up of the quintessential cad, I think this song also conveys a real, erm... appreciation for the women (especially the "beatnik chicks just wearing their socks"). Add to that the multiple obvious and subtle pop cultural references and the funky-ass Dust Brothers' production, and you have a bona fide classic.
  • "Side with the Seeds" - Wilco: I've gone on before about how much I enjoy the laid-back, jammy feel of Wilco's latest, but this song stands out for me as featuring some of Jeff Tweedy's most soulful vocals to date.
  • "One Reporter's Opinion" - the Minutemen: "What could be romantic to Mike Watt?" I have no idea what the answer to d. boon's rhetorical question might be, but this song rides on Watt's rolling bass lines and boon's perfect delivery of surreal lyrics.
And your bonus #11:
  • "Common People" - William Shatner: You might be tempted to believe that I'm offering this track with an ironic wink. It is Captain Kirk, after all, and one could be excused, after his campy take of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and the atrocious "Rocket Man," for believing that this is just more self-indulgence. But this cover of the Pulp classic honestly rocks (witness the Shat's dueling with Pulp icon Joe Cocker). Does this make me post-postmodern? The song certainly is self-conscious, but Shatner's vocals nail the song's not so subtle contempt for rich hipsters. It's worth price of admission just to hear the Shat deliver the lines, "Laugh along with the common people/ Laugh along even though their laughing at you/ And all the stupid things that you do/ Because you think poor is cool" with such vitriolic cool. It really is a great track, and iTunes does a great disservice classifying it in the "comedy" genre.

So there you have it. Songs that are worth the $10.89 to download from the iTunes store, download from Napster, or steal from your favorite on-line pirate. Not that I condone that.

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