As a Nirvana fan boy, Miley Cyrus performing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” should offend me. But it doesn’t. This is probably due to this video’s splicing of her dance moves with clips of Elaine Benes cutting a rug.
On a side note, it’s crazy to think that “Seinfeld” is still the funniest thing on TV.
On face value, this is just another punk rock song, but if you listen a little longer you’ll hear exactly what makes Eddy Current Suppression Ring different than others within the genre. While most bands would wrap this song up at the two minute mark, ECSR have just begun. The next four and a half minutes of “Tuning Out” Eddy Current takes front stage, manipulating his Stratocaster to its limit, making a gluttonous amount of squeaks and howls, showing exactly why this is his band.
24. “Crank Resolutions”
Back in Septemeber, I wrote of Meursault and this song: “While most bands are forced to rely on a more polished production value to push the sense of urgency to a higher level, Meursault rely solely on a strange mixture of popping beats and crunching piano riffs that are reminiscent of a CB radio broadcast. ‘Crank Resolutions’ features a beat that is beyond description (which is a good thing).”
23. “Don’t Look Back”
Usually, Kylesa are pretty damn scary, but on “Don’t Look Back” they sound strangely inspirational. Tony Robbins better watch his back (on second thought Tony, heed Kylesa’s advice and don’t look back).
22. “Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent Pt. 2: Innocent”
I saw Besnard Lakes perform this song at SXSW this past year, and since then, I haven’t been able to remove the soothing chorus of “Ooh, you’re like the ocean” out of my head. You can put your ear up to my cranium like it’s a seashell and hear the sounds of “Like the Ocean” softly echoing inside.
21. “Hey Cool Kid”
“Hey Cool Kid” is a story of an outsider, realizing that his idol is nothing but an asshole who will “beat me back into the ground”. Despite this, his insecurity pushes him to still keep asking for the cool kid “to come around”.
20. “Suburban War”
When I first heard this song I liked it because the guitar lick reminded me of The Rolling Stone’s “Gimme Shelter”. Then of course I made the mistake of listening to the lyrics, and this once upbeat song spawned sorrow for those friends I’ve lost in their pursuit of adulthood:
My old friends
I can remember when
You cut your hair
We never saw you again
Now the cities we live in
Could be distant stars
And I search for you
In every passing car
19. “Sleepless in Silver Lake”
Les Savy Fav
As far as I’m concerned, there are way too many songs about Los Angeles. Where are the songs about Bozeman, Montana for Christ’s sake!? Despite the saturation of “I Love L.A.”s and “Under the Bridge”s, Les Savy Fav present a fresh take on the City of Angels with “Sleepless in Silver Lake”:
The walking wounded wrap their face in gauze.These kids’ll kill ya just because they can. Their teeth are bleached and their tits are tan.
18. “Black Bubblegum”
I’m 86% sure that this song is about Sherry Becker who chewed Black Jack bubblegum, wore an orange dress, and witnessed Jerry Seinfeld returning Tropic of Cancer to the library in 1972 (or was it Dentyne?).
17. “The Tree”
Blitzen Trapper (featuring Alela Diane)
Another highlight of 2010 for me was my last minute trip to Portland with my brother. The two of us rented a little Vibe and drove around the area, hiking whatever peaks we could fit in within our three-day stay. While hiking along the Cascade Ridge, we came upon 300-year-old Sitka trees – an army of menacing patriarchs, standing judicious and strong, looking down upon all that pass by. Whenever I listen to the 2010 release from Portland’s own Blitzen Trapper I can’t help but think back to that trip, more specifically this song with its lyrics of a tree that “grows never-ending”. Upon each listen, I’m brought back to that day, standing with my brother and looking up at the majestic beasts that surrounded us. The addition of Portland’s first lady Alela Diane to the song only sweetens the song’s enchantment.
16. “Take It Easy”
Starts off with a tropical feel, moves into an early 90s alternative chorus, and ends with an 80s U2 outro: this is what we call a song quilt.
15. “The Boys are Out”
Whenever I play this song I feel guilty. I bought the Hanoi Janes latest release, and after listening to it all the way through a couple times, I found myself continually going back to this song (ignoring the rest). There is just something about the little freak out that arrives at the 30 second mark- maybe it’s the drumstick cracks, or it could possibly the call-and-response guitars that reverberate from one speaker to the other- whatever it is, “The Boys are Out” is the most fun you’ll have in under a minute thirty.
14. “The Winner”
“Twistable, Turnable Man” was an album of Shel Silverstien covers that came out this past year, and despite an impressive list of bands featured on it (My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, Lucinda Williams) the best cover is performed by old reliable, Kris Kristofferson. His raspy baritone naturally works with Silverstein’s narrative songwriting. When I listen to this song, I imagine the narrator is LeBron James and Tiger Man the Cool is Michael Jordan. It just seems fitting after finding out this past summer that James doesn’t understand what it takes to be a winner.
13. “My Gap Feels Weird”
I would prefer if this song were about having a pain in your taint, but it ends up ol’ Mack wrote it about going to a show and realizing you’re the oldest one there. I hate to admit that I can relate. At least I can take comfort in knowing old folks are always welcome at a Superchunk show.
12. “Night, Night”
Big Boi (featuring B.o.B. and Joi)
“Night, Night” is one of the finest rap call-outs you’ll ever hear, not pointing out one specific MC, rather annihilating all the fools that can’t hold themselves up to Big Boi’s standard. To back up his flow built on intelligence rather than empty threats, Big Boi blends a funky bass with a spunky female choir that is completely devoid of auto-tune. It truly is “something new.”
11. “Marimba and Shit Drums”
Earlier this year, I wrote of this song/album: “There is only one 20-minute song on Moonface’s EP “Dreamland” and it is called “marimba and shit-drums”. The title is straight to the point because, in fact, the song is comprised of just that: a marimba and shit-drums. Of course, you also hear Spencer Krug’s voice, but otherwise it is simply a marimba and shit-drums; nothing more, nothing less. The constant pulse of the marimba gives the song imminence; a feeling that the echo of the wooden bars being struck by a mallet is building towards something, racing toward a culmination. Then, of course, the shit-drums kick in and it’s on. The crackling of the harsh rhythm plays as the perfect antithesis to the happy-go-lucky marimba. Krug has taken the joyful sounds of the African instrument and somehow given it tension, made it angrier, made it sound more, dare I say, hardcore. With only two simple instruments Krug creates music that is just as dramatic and heartfelt as anything by Explosions in the Sky. Creating explosions with only two instruments? In essence, Krug is the MacGyver of the music world.”
When Dean Spunt sings “I want you bad underneath my skin”, he’s encapsulating addiction. It could be a dependence to drugs, alcohol, food, sex, or maybe even an abusive relationship; whatever it is, the speaker knows it will cause harm yet craves it. For me, the addiction is to the screeching distortion that lurks in the background of this song. To many, I’m sure this sounds like simply noise, but I keep coming back. Not because I enjoy pain, but because I’ve found beauty within that dissonance. I can’t get enough of that needling noise underneath my skin.
9. “Dance Yrself Clean”
I present to you an auditory cleansing. The first three minutes will help you relax, help raise your spirits. And then, well, then it’s time. James Murphy’s pumping beats and throbbing bass line burst through the speakers and spray you with an energy you didn’t have moments ago. Suddenly, without warning, you’re on your feet moving; washing away your worries; shaking away your negative energy; dancing yourself clean.
8. “Desire Lines”
If you asked me a year ago to name the top ten songs of the past decade, Deerhunter’s “Nothing Ever Happened” would have easily made the list. Its fluid movements from one riff to the next continues to leave me in awe. I didn’t think the band could ever top the song. Then along comes “Haclyon Digest” with the song “Desire Lines”, and I’m thrown for a loop. Not only does this song follow the same transformational model (three minutes in the madness is unleashed), but it also features an even catchier chorus to start things off. “Nothing Ever Happened” probably remains the quintessential Deerhunter song for me, but they are sure making things difficult.
7. “Post Acid”
Only a year ago, everyone hated Nathan Williams for his meltdown in Barcelona, even his drummer. But now it’s officially time to exonerate him of his past mistakes. Not only are his songs more instantaneously satisfying, but he’s also apologizing in “Post Acid” when he sings “I was just having fun with you.” Ah shucks Nathan; we forgive you.
6. “Wide Eyes”
The harmonizing voices, the machine gun drums, the twinkling guitar riffs: “Wide Eyes” is an example of a band finding their true potential. While much of “Gorilla Manor” is milk-toast mediocrity, this song proves that when all the pieces are put in the right place, Local Natives are capable of making extraordinary music.
5. “Round and Round”
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
All of the parts of “Round and Round” work together like a merry-go-round of melody, moving round and round, up and down, creating an experience that will have you begging for another ride through simpler times.
4. “Snakes for the Divine”
High On Fire
The metal anthem is not dead, despite what sports arenas around the country would suggest. They’d like you to believe that fist pumping and head banging died with AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, and Metallica. Wrong. Imagine if you will, your favorite sports team running onto the court/field/ice as the opening to “Snakes for the Divine” rumbles through the stadium, building a frothing mass of furious, energized fans, filled with bloodlust for a win, shaking, twitching, standing on the verge of a completely chaotic riot…. actually, it’s probably a good idea to keep High On Fire out of the stadiums (especially Detroit).
Kanye West (featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nikki Manaj, and Bon Iver)
When Kanye West sang his song “Runaway” at the VMA’s, most thought it was an admission of guilt to Taylor Swift. Not so fast my friend. Soon after “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” came out and all thoughts of apologies disappeared. On “Monster” Kanye erases any suggestions of humility or guilt When he spouts, “I’m living in the future so my presence is my past. My presence is a present kiss my ass.” This is the musical version of Hulk Hogan joining the NWO; Kanye takes pride in his villainous portrayal. The scariest part of “Monster” is not the flows of Rick Ross, Kanye, Jay-Z, or even the soothing vocals of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. That honor goes to Nicki Minaj’s venomous verse that electrifies and brings this monster of a song to life.
2. “A Cold Freezin’ Night”
Set to what resembles the theme music to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “A Cold Freezin’ Night” features samples of a little boy ranting about how he will kill you with a rifle, a shotgun, and cut your toes off. In response, a little girl admits that boys are better than girls, even going so far as to wish she was a boy. And somehow, all these chauvinist, psychotic threats are joyful due simply to a great dance beat (and a short harmonica solo never hurts). If only it was this easy to make little kids tolerable in real life.
Earlier this year I bought a record player and soon after found myself with a vinyl obsession. Most of my records were used purchases, but I also dabbled in buying the vinyl of new releases. With many labels including a free download code with a purchase, it just seems to make more sense to get the larger than life packaging/artwork. One of my earliest purchases was Ty Segall’s “Melted”, and it quickly became a mainstay on my turntable. Every time I listened to the album, I would get up and push the arm back to the beginning of “Caesar” to hear it one, two, maybe even three times in a row. A month ago as I was compiling this list I put “Melted” on again only to find that during “Caesar” my record now skips. While the loss of this song saddened me to no end, the scratch also symbolized my undying affection for this pop-punk gem. Fortunately for you, you can listen to the clip above as many times as you like without fear of a scratch (but you won’t get the full effect without it crackling out of a record player).
With the finale of “LOST” approaching us this Sunday, I decided I’d take a moment to look at the role music has played in the show. Not the orchestration, as fantastic as it is, rather the use of popular music through the past six seasons. I understand that many of the song choices are due to their thematic connection, but I’m going to ignore those links altogether and judge the characters’ music choices on face value with one question in mind: who on the island has the best taste in music. I’ve had this question in my mind since I began viewing the show back in January. That’s right: six seasons in five months. I’m not proud of this fact, but I’m glad I went all in on this ground-breaking show.
10. Desmond Hume
The song that everyone associates with Desmond is of course Mama Cass Elliot’s “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” This is due to the fact that when we first met him he was blaring this song in The Hatch. Now, I understand that Desmond’s music choices were limited to only the stack of records kept in his little bunker, but to play this corn-ball garbage in the morning while doing dishes and sit-ups is a bit suspect. Even when not stuck in the hatch his taste blows. While lying in bed in another life (brotha!) he is listening to Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery”. What a romantic hack! Desmond doesn’t make this list because he has the tenth best taste in music, rather his taste is the worst.
9. John Locke
John always meant well. No one can deny this. He was a romantic at heart and was foolish enough to think things happen for a reason. Hence, his music choice while eating breakfast with Helen is George Jone’s “I’ll Share My World With You”, when we all know that he won’t (unless it’s an alternate future of course). George Jones fits the classic country mold, although he seems a bit forced at times. John redeems himself in another episode with a song that seems more fitting for the perpetual loser. While driving in his old rusty truck, John listens to Muddy Water’s “I Feel Like Going Home”. Not only do the blues perfectly portray the turmoil that Locke must endure, but throughout the show he truly is looking to go home. Unfortunately, not even the island is John’s home sweet home. Poor fella.
8. Kate Austin
Kate is a one trick pony when it comes to her music choices, or I should say music choice. Patsy Cline, Patsy Cline, Patsy Cline: that’s all Kate is ever listening to in any flashback or flash-forward, regardless of what alternate future or past is taking place. We get the connection writers, you don’t need to shove it into our earholes. Yes, Kate often goes “Walking After Midnight” like a scavenger, and “She’s Got You”, whether that you is in reference to Jack or Sawyer. I never understood Kate’s attraction to Sawyer and his snake-skin salesman ways, but then again, this is the same girl who tried stealing a New Kids On the Block lunch box. Fortunately for Kate, I’ll forgive her bad choices in life due to her good ones. Jack Shepherd is the man, and I have to admit that I’ve got a soft spot for old Patsy and her heart-wrenching tales. I just wish the girl would give Mrs. Cline a break once in a while (even If that means a quick listen to “Hangin’ Tough”).
7. James “Sawyer” Ford
Sawyer is known for his wise-cracks and pop-culture references, and this of course means a few music based comments like calling Frank “Kenny Rogers” or mentioning Jimmy Buffet’s “Coconut Telegraph”. But none of his comments seem to delve deep into the music world like his allusions to old TV shows and movies. We didn’t get much of a sense of Sawyer’s music taste until this final season when we find him hiding in one of the old Dharma cabins listening to Iggy and the Stooge’s “Search and Destroy”. What better song to listen to when you’re seeking revenge for the death of your girlfriend? But then of course, ol’ Sawyer lost huge points, at least in my book. When the smoke monster first flies by the house Sawyer is listening to “Search and Dstroy” inside. Old Smokey continues on his way, talks with Richard for 10 minutes, and then finally decides to return to visit Sawyer. When he returns, the same song is playing. This would mean that James “Sawyer” Ford listened to the song, got up, moved the needle on the LP back to the same song, and listened to it several more times. Don’t get me wrong, “Search and Destroy” is a great pop-punk song, but the album it’s featured on, “Raw Power”, is even more incredible. I’ll give Sawyer credit for listening to The Stooges, but no one should ever start “Raw Power” and not listen to it straight through. It’s sacrilege. (I do have to point out that “Search and Destroy” is actually about the Smoke Monster/John Locke, both quintessentially being the “forgotten boy”).
This clip is in Spanish, but you get the point:
6. Charlie Pace
You would think the rock star on the island would be the shoe-in for best music taste. Not so fast my friend. Charlie’s Brit-band Drive Shaft was simply a one-hit-wonder, and “You All Everybody” is the type of musical fare you would hear at the beginning of a Peter Engel Saturday morning TV show like “Saved by the Bell” or “California Dreams”. Anytime Charlie’s meal-ticket began playing, I’d cringe. I would like to blame the utter shitt-iness of the song on his brother Liam, but Charlie was the “talent” of the band, writing all the songs. So why is Charlie ranked sixth if his songwriting was so lacking? He gave glimpses into his music taste on occasion, whether it be singing a Kinks song to pass the time on the island or his “Strawberry Fields Forever” tattoo. Sure, no one can forgive Charlie/Merry for playing Oasis on a street corner, but here at BDWPS we can’t hate on a guy who is also seen at one point wearing a Bob Dylan “Highway 61 Revisited” t-shirt. Bob Dylan Loves Drive Shaft. You heard it here first.
5. Mr. Ecko
I think this is just a sympathy pick. Mr. Ecko was easily my favorite addition to the show, yet the writers had to kill him off before we really got to explore the psyche of this profound character. In one scene you can hear Ecko listening to Femi Kuti’s “Eko Lagos”, a great choice simply due to the song title. Who is Femi Kuti? The son of the great Feli Kuti! Who’s Feli Kuti? Watch your mouth! Basically, Femi Kuti is Nigeria’s version of Sean Lennon if Sean Lennon had talent. Over the years, Femi has explored afro-beat music, pushing his father’s legacy into new directions. The fact that Ecko is listening to this song at a bar may make his placement at number five a bit suspect, but I’d like to believe Mr. Ecko sauntered over to the jukebox to pick this song prior to the start of the scene. Call me a dreamer.
4. Pierre Chang–
You would think of a scientist as being uptight and not having interest in pop music, but Pierre Chang proves that even a scientist can make a little time for Willie Nelson. On a beautiful morning in Dharma-ville, Dr. Chang wakes up and decides that the best way to start the day for his wife and son is to listen to Willie Nelson’s “Shotgun Willie”. This moment is the only glimpse we really get into the minor character Chang’s personal life, but it’s enough for me to deem him a lover of music. At the moment, I can’t think of a better way to start a day than to listen to Willie Nelson.
3. Juliet Burke
We actually only hear Juliet listening to one song, and if I based my decision on this choice alone she would rank near Desmond. While prepping for her book club, she has Petula Clark’s “Downtown” playing loudly on the stereo. She’s listening to the same song when driving with Rachel up to the guardhouse. This song isn’t necessarily horrible, but it isn’t great either. Personally, I can’t hear “Downtown” without thinking of the “Seinfeld” episode where George Constanza tries to unlock the secret of the song. The secret to Juliet’s great taste in music lies in her CD collection. Before putting “Downtown” in the CD player, she fumbles with the Son Volt CD “Okemah and the Melody of Riot”. Not only does Juliet like classic 90s alterna-country, but she then picks up a CD case for the Talking Head’s “Speaking In Tongues”. Son Volt and Talking Heads? Now that’s my kind of girl! The fact that she chose Petula Clark over these two incredible albums is beyond the point. Could they have possibly been Goodwin’s CDs? I won’t entertain the question, God rest his soul.
2. Jack Shephard
Once stuck back in his normal life, Jack realizes he made a huge mistake by leaving the island. He goes through a major depression and is often seen listening to essential early 90s grunge like Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice” and The Pixies “Gouge Away”. I can’t imagine my doctor listening to these raw, vicarious grunge tunes, but Jack’s not your average doctor. He’s a perfectionist, and when things don’t go as expected, he lets things fall to pieces, one gouge at a time. I love the fact that the eventual hero of the show (I’m calling it now) is deep down, a broken, emotional wreck.
1. Hugo “Hurley” Reyes
Hugo is the obvious pick here, as much as I tried convincing myself that Jack was the true music fanatic of the island. There are several details that I can’t deny. First off, Hugo is the only person who actually listens to a portable music device while on the island. The fact that a lottery winner is listening to a Disc-Man says a lot about Hugo’s hipster leanings. Instead of going the digital route with an MP3 player, Hugo still clings to his physical media. Heck, his first stop after winning the lottery is the record store! And while there, he asks the clerk to go to a Hold Steady show with him. Hurley’s taste in music runs the gamut, ranging from James Brown to Damien Rice. But the best insight into Hurley’s knowledge of music lies in his references. For example, when talking to Mrs. Trahn, his servent, he calls her “Lady Tron”, an obscure music reference to the Roxy Music song of the same title. This comment alone demonstrates a true grasp of music history (and music snobbery at that). Hugo may not have any Femi Kuti or Pixies in his record collection, but his consistent display of musical insight is unchallenged by any other castaway of Oceanic Flight 815. His ability to talk to dead people may come in useful after all; “Jimi, are you out there?”
A classic Hugo moment; his Disc-Man’s batteries finally die: