Tag Archives: you must be out of your mind

Top 100 Tracks of 2010 (75-51)

 

75. “Doubt”

The Corin Tucker Band

I always thought Carrie Brownstein was the more punk rock of the ladies in Sleater Kinney. I always thought she had the fire, the anger, and the edge that counteracted Corrin Tucker’s more feminine approach. I was wrong. So wrong.

 

74. “Stranded”

The Walkmen

I’m a sucker for trumpets, especially when they sound this damn dreamy.

73. “Theme From ‘Cheers””

Titus Andronicus

Looking back on my year, one memory that stands out the most is when me and BDWPS contributer PtheStudP visited Cheers in downtown Boston.  After a two-hour marathon at a beer festival, our tour guide Steph led us to Cheers where her friend Justin was bartending.  What I thought was going to a quick tourist visit turned into hours of drunken splendor. Soon the variety of beers and shots somehow turned into a night of boisterous chanting of  “U-S-A!”, “Lord-By-ron!”, and “Tom Arn-old!”  This song brings me back to that night, not necessarily because of the reference to Cheers in the title, but the chorus that could have easily been one of our chants that night: “So let’s get fucked up, and let’s pretend we’re all okay, and if you’ve got something you can’t live with, save it for another day. Save it for another day.”

72. “Bloodbuzz Ohio”

The National

After carrying The National’s Matt Berninger to Ohio, I’d like that same swarm of bees to visit Jim Tressel’s house.

71. “Tame On the Prowl”

The Medications

In most cases, my adoration of The Medications stems from trying to untangle the vine of intertwined guitar licks in each song.  “Tame On the Prowl” continues this tradition, but also features a melody that will quickly wrap around your Hippocampus.

70. “Whores; The Movie”

El-P

Not only is “Whores; The Movie” a stellar song, but it would also make a great movie (preferably in 3-D).

69. “Leave You Forever”

Cloud Nothings

I could never leave this song forever.

68. “Apartment Wrestling”

Maximum Balloon (featuring David Byrne)

If you’ve ever wondered what TV On the Radio would sound like if they joined forces with The Talking Heads, it’s as amazing as you expected.

67. “Grief Point”

Destroyer

This is not really a song, rather an audio-short-film, or an audio-psycho analysis, or maybe just the ramblings of a confused artist. Whatever the case, this eight minute insight into the mind of Dan Bejar and his view of music at this point in his career is fascinating.  Earlier this year, Bejar discussed ending his recording career altogether (fortunately he didn’t with a new album coming out soon), and this B-side to his “Archer on the Beach” EP captures him in the midst of this confusion of what role his music plays in both his life and his listeners.  Plus, I just like the imagery of “picnic baskets filled with blood”.  Call me a hopeless romantic!

66. “Fresh Hex”

Tobacco (featuring Beck)

“Maniac Meat” is such a fun fucking album and on “Fresh Hex” Beck joins the party, giving the album his own fresh take on their energetic sound.

65. “Pop Culture (revisited)”

The Ponys

The Ponys originally formed in Chicago back in 2001, and one of their earliest songs was “Pop Culture”.  For whatever reason, this song never made it onto a major record, only being heard during live performance.  I can still remember them playing this song when I first saw them live four years ago.  But in 2010, with the release of their song EP “Deathbed Plus 4”, “Pop Culture (revisited)” was finally released from captivity, and it sounds as lively as ever.

64. “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”

Frightened Rabbit

Water has always represented rebirth, and on “Swim Until You Can’t See Land” singer Scott Hutchison swims not only for a renewal, but also to feel alive again.

 

63. “You Must Be Out of Your Mind”

The Magnetic Fields

This past year I’ve had to learn how to forgive others, and also tried to gain forgiveness for those I’ve hurt.  In both cases this isn’t the easiest of tasks.  As the person who was wronged, there is some agitation with the idea that by simply saying “I’m sorry” that everything goes back to the way they were. They don’t and they never will. But as the person asking for forgiveness, you can’t “simply press rewind” and things will be they way they once were no matter how bad you would like them to.  Stephin Merritt’s snarky lyrics take on the persona of the one burned, and his stance can be either an anthem for moving on or a eulogy for a relationship (depending one what side of the forgiveness fault-line you stand).

 

62. “Waterfall”

Fresh & Onlys

The Fresh & Onlys are time travelers, but instead of going to the past, they’ve come to us from the 60s, bringing with them a sound that has been long forgotten. Amazingly, a song like “Waterfall” grows out of the oldies, yet sounds like nothing else on the radio.  This is the type of song that would lead Marty McFly to say, “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet, but your grandparents loved it.”

 

61. “Below the Hurricane”

Blitzen Trapper

At first this seems like a beautiful little folk song, but halfway through the band kicks it up a notch with Doobie Brother’s persona that is sweetened with a couple drops of harmonica.

60. “I Learned the Hard Way”

Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

The only thing I don’t like about this song is the fact that she never defines exactly what this guy did to turn her into such a bitter old maid.

 

59. “Mr. Peterson”

Perfume Genius

This eerie song tells the story of a teacher, Mr. Peterson, leaving a note on a student’s paper telling them to meet him at a certain time and place. For some reason, the narrator meets up with the teacher, smokes weed with him, and possibly has sex with him (although this event is only inferred).  When the teacher goes on to kill himself, the narrator doesn’t necessarily hold a grudge toward him. Instead, the speaker hopes that Mr. Peterson can find a place where he’s wanted, even if that place be hell.

So yeah, this songs kinda depressing.

 

58. “Moves”

The New Pornographers

After their lackluster 2007 release “Challengers”, I’d kinda written The New Pornographers off.  It just seemed like their sound had run its course and had no where else to go.  But on their latest release, “Together”, the band has found new ways to eek a little more life out of their collective, especially on a song like “Moves” that amps up their classic sound with a driving orchestral addition.

57.  “Suffering Season”

Woods

I made the mistake this summer of defining Woods as the next Neil Young. The falsetto vocals do conjure up images of Sir Neil, but a song like “Suffering Season” shows the band is influenced by many other voices of the past (possibly the Mamas and the Papas?).

56. “Girlfriend”

Ty Segall

In just two minutes, Ty Segall will have you singing along.  That has to be some type of record.

55. “Favourite Food”

Tokyo Police Club

Getting old stinks, a point this song pounds into the ground.  Not only have I had to face the facts that I’m no longer young, but my parent’s aging has become apparent, a notion that scares me.  When the lyrics say “cause it’s sweet getting old” followed by “Let the hospital be your home”, I can’t help but feel that Tokyo Police Club are being morbidly ironic. I would like to believe that there is some hope hidden within the metaphors of this riveting song, but I can’t seem to find them.

54. “Written in Reverse”

Spoon

With all that screaming and punching of piano keys, something must have really pissed Britt Daniels off. But unlike the Incredible Hulk, you’ll like Britt when he’s angry.

53. “Relief”

Sam Amidon

I really should start listening to some R Kelly.  A couple of years ago I couldn’t quit listening to Bonnie “Prince” Billy’s cover of R. Kelly’s “The Word’s Greatest”.   This year Sam Amidon, who is known for his modern interpretations of classic folk songs, switched his routine by taking R. Kelly’s “Relief” and giving it a more classic ambience. On second thought, I’ll just stick to people covering R. Kelly.

52. “POWER”

Kanye West

Even though it’s the third track on “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, “POWER” is the introduction to the Shakespearan tale found on this album.  In it, Kanye portrays a man dealing with the struggles of being in power. At times he seems arrogant and aloof, but near the end of the song the listener begins hearing a man realizing that the one thing he doesn’t have power over is himself.  By the time the outro arrives, the speaker is standing on a ledge envisioning himself jumping, saying, “This would be a beautiful death”.

Oh, and did I mention it samples King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man”?

51. “He Would Have Laughed”

Deerhunter

A lot of great musicians died in 2010 (Captain Beefheart, Ronnie James Dio, Mark Linkous), but the most devastating loss in my view was the death of Jay Reatard simply because Jay had so much left to create, so must potential.  Being friends with Jay, Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox wrote “He Would Have Laughed” in dedication to the lost genius.  I’m not sure if the song is necessarily about Jay with its abstract lyrics, although there is something there within the lyrics “Where do all my friends go?” and “What did you want to be?”.  I think the connection to Jay’s life is found within the music its self, with the slow progression that eventually goes into a euphoric swell, but then, just like Jay’s life, the song just suddenly stops. Fuck.

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Magnetic Fields “Realism”

Magnetic Fields
“Realism”
[Nonesuch Records]

Rating: 5.5

Back in high school, one of the highlights of the year was the month of bowling in P.E. class. I’m not a bowling enthusiast, nor was I in high school, but I relished the chance to leave the confines of the school for an hour each day to throw a heavy ball down a slippery lane.  For some reason, the teachers also allowed us to play songs on the old dusty jukebox in the corner. The bowling alley hadn’t invested in a modern CD playing jukebox just yet, so the song list consisted of the classic two song per artists offering.

While most students would toss  quarters into the juke to hear the likes of Shania Twain and Guns N’ Roses, my friend Matt and I would arrive with pockets full of quarters to play a more obscure artist.  No, it wasn’t the juke’s new arrival, Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” and “Black Hole Sun”.  Our choice was Billy Rabbit.  Yes, Billy Rabbit.  Never heard of him? Well, based on an extensive Google search, no one else on Earth has either. Billy Rabbit was featured on the jukebox for one simple reason: he sang “Happy Birthday”, the perfect song choice for a bowling Birthday party. But we didn’t choose Billy Rabbit’s “big hit”.  Instead, we’d pick the second song offering, “Today is Such a Very Special Day”, a song we figured no other patron had ever played before.  In a move of what I would describe as either teenage angst or prepubescent dick-hood, we’d fill the machine with every quarter we had scrounged up and play “Today is Such a Very Special Day” over and over and over again.

For the next hour of bowling, the entire class would glare at Matt and I from the other lanes as the song played on repeat.  There would be a moment of quiet hope when the song came to a close, and then they would all exhale in disgust when the opening chords to “Today is Such a Very Special Day” returned.  I loved that month of bowling; my classmates, not so much.

I hadn’t thought of Billy Rabbit or his sophomore hit for years, but recently the memories of that sing-songy chorus came rushing back to me while listening to the song “We Are Having a Hootenanny” off of Magnetic Field’s latest album “Realism”. This is not a good thing.  While Stephin Merrit claims the new album was an aim toward a folk album, it resembles the type of musical fare you’d hear on Nick Jr.  With songs like “The Doll’s Tea Party” and “Everything is One Big Christmas Tree”, you can’t help but wonder what Merrit was aiming for here.  I can understand having fun with your music, but do you have to release it as the next Magnetic Field’s album?  Seriously.  He could have made it an endearing side project or made a special guest appearance on “Yo Gabba Gabba!”.  But why taint the Magnetic Fields name with your tinkering?

We’re talking about the same Magnetic Fields who released the critically acclaimed “69 Love Songs”, a three album opus comprised of, you guessed it,  69 love songs. This is the Magnetic Fields who created questionably the greatest road trip album ever in “The Charm of the Highway Strip”. This is the songwriter, Stephin Merritt, who has been followed for the past ten years by a camera crew for a soon to be released documentary on his music.

The trailer:

No, I’m not missing Merrit’s point on this album. Yes, his lyrics are smart, but not that smart. You can’t blame the guy for not wanting to write any more love songs, but why must he jump from love to tea parties?  I do find humor in a lot of his offerings here, but not in the usual high-brow Merrit fashion, rather a chuckle of “why the hell is Stephin Merrit singing about a hootenanny?”

Fortunately, he didn’t completely hold back his pop genius for the entirety of the album.  “I Don’t Know What To Say” could fit alongside Magnetic Field’s classics with the addition of that simple drum machine that has always been a vital part of the band’s sound.  In fact, there are only two songs that feature actual drums.  The opening song “You Must Be Out of Your Mind” is Merrit at his finest and is probably the best song I’ve heard so far this year.  But just as you are warmed up by Merrit’s voice, track two rolls in with a nasally female voice destroying any semblance of joy. Why the female singer Stephin?  People want to hear that baritone groan damn it!

Here’s “You Must Be Out of Your Mind”:

The last Magnetic Field’s album, “Distortion”,  found the band’s music venturing into the world of garbled fuzz, making me wonder if Merrit is just bored with his synthesizer.  Maybe he’s going through the same type of musical soul-searching that Neil Young underwent in the 80s when he started experimenting with rockabilly and the vocodor.

I also wonder about good old Billy Rabbit.  I wonder where he is now. I wonder why he doesn’t exist according to I-Tunes and the internet. And I wonder if maybe there was a Merrit-like genius inside of good ol’ Mr. Rabbit that never got the chance to shine.  Or maybe that jukebox was a magical machine a la Zoltar in “Big”, and Billy Rabbit never existed at all.

"Today is such a very special day..."

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