Friday, August 28, 2009

Favorite Moments in Music: Final (10-1)

You may have noticed that after four days, the current series just sort of....stopped. The reason for this is simple - I didn't actually prepare for this. Nothing was pre-written. As usual, it worked out okay for the lower entries, but by the upper entries, everything sounded the same ('yeah, i like this song because it builds up and then crescendos'). I took a break to recharge, and plot a better list that the top ten deserves.

...and here....we......GO.

10. Oasis - Wonderwall
"I don't believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now"

I seriously love this song. I know it's more than a little cheesy, and that it's 'not the band's best song' (though I'd argue it is). I'm well aware that Oasis' lead singer is kind of a jerk, and the the relationship this song was written about didn't exactly end well. Still, when Liam sings the above line, it warms my soul. It just has a certain authenticity in its feel, a certain rawness and honesty - no matter if they meant it or not, it certainly has a sentiment to it that goes beyond ordinary - which is probably why it's still their most popular song. Oasis has made 'better' songs, but they've never made a more real song.

Note: "Saviour of My Universe" by All Star United rips this song off hardcore. That could easily be why I enjoyed it so much when I first heard it years ago, and why I have such a hard time listening to it now that my mind has made the connection.

9. ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead - Relative Ways
"It's okay… I'm a saint"

Conrad Keely has one of the more distinctive (and, of we're being honest, bad) voices in rock music. When he gets to the end of the second verse in "Relative Ways", though, he starts half-screaming "it's okay, i'm a saint - i forgave your mistake" with such abandon that it really doesn't matter that he's only in the vague area of most of the notes that he's attempting. Trail of Dead has tried to recapture the "epic-ness" of Source Tags and Codes (and I've enjoyed pretty much all of their albums), but in doing so, they've kind of missed the point. What was so gripping about Source Tags was its raw emotion, and I'm not sure that the level they show in this song could ever be replicated.

8. The Hold Steady - Slapped Actress
"Man, we make our own movies"

This one hit number one on my 2008 list (although at the time, I called it the "best way to close out a CD that I've ever heard", which, as you'll soon see isn't entirely acurate). There's just something about rock music that makes simple a "oh-OH!" chant sound absolutely epic. It's hard to imagine better driving music that the band rocking out, the backgound singers "oh-oh"ing and Craig Finn singing "man, we make our own movies".

7. Mr. Bungle - Goodbye Sober Day

Never accuse Mr. Bungle of making 'normal' music. 'Goodbye Sober Day' jumps back and forth between more genres (lounge, metal, rap-rock, bizzarely operatic rock, and even a section that sounds like elevator music) in just the one song than most bands experiment with in their careers. Undoubtably the most memorable portion of the song is the kecac section. It begins with a very creepy tribal sounding chant, punctuated by a single cry of "CHAAC!", which soon gives way to a rhythmic (and initially, sort of terrifying) chant. More than any other entry on the list, this has to be heard to be believed - mere words don't adaquately describe it.

6. The New Pornographers - Bleeding Heart Show
"The ending"

It's kind of strange that most people will forever associate this song (and specifically the part I'm talking about) with the commercials for a certain (somewhat dubious) "online university". The "Hey la" section takes up the entire last third of "Bleeding Heart Show", and while it's going, I could easily stand another full minute or two of it. Everything feels so alive - the drums, the guitars, the myriad of singers. When Neko Case starts singing "we have arrived too late to play the bleeding heart show" over the top of it, it gels into a musical experience that you don't want to end.

5. TV on the Radio - Wolf Like Me
"The first hook and the bridge"

This is the best song about werewolf sex (or... something like that...) ever made. I'm fairly confident in that supposition. The first time the hook plays hints at the energy the song is capable of, but the part right after the bridge is where it all lets loose. Guitars fuzzed out to the point where they barely even sound like guitars and an ultra-insistant drumbeat fuel an orgy of sound. The lyrical content veers between creepy and barely-sensical, but the beat has you singing along in no time. Whatever the song is actually about (and it well could be about horny werewolves), it hardly matters. The full moon is out, and it's time to get wild.

Really, just about any portion of this song would work just fine. The "howlin' forever" ending, the "mongrel mind", anything. It's just a fantastic song.

4. Radiohead - Lucky
"It's going to be a glorious day………I feel my luck could change"

I've never understood why 'Lucky' ng isn't considered to be one of Radiohead's best. Its sense of forboding, the guitar line in the chorus - just about everything about this song is perfect. In my opinion, Thom Yorke's finest moment is the entire second verse to this song. The way his voice soars - yet stays in complete control - when he sings "it's going to be a glorious day" is only matched by the resigned (but still almost defiant) way he sings "I feel my luck could change". Years later, it still makes my blood run cold.

3. Okkervil River - Our Life Is Not a Movie Or Maybe

I'm not a big Okkervil River fan (which is a nice way of saying that this song is basically the only song I listen to by them). This song, however, is just unbelieveable. The "life as a movie" metaphor is averted by the knowledge that the whole thing is not a movie. There's no particularly happy ending in sight, and when the narrator sees the object of his affection, there's no way of doing anything but watching - which he states in a sublimely awesome way. What follows is about as close as this band comes to rocking out.

Note: I've linked to the music video, because it's one of my favorites, and also because it accentuates the theme really well.

2. Arcade Fire - Intervention
"Who's gonna throw the very first stone?"

Full disclosure: I wasn't blown away by Funeral the first time I heard it (I've since done a fairly substantial 180 on my opinion.) For whatever reason, I watched SNL one night in early 2007 (something I generally try to actively avoid). The instant the organ blast opened this song, I took notice... by the time the second verse shifted the song into high gear (with accompanying organ blast, of course), I was frantically looking for my copy of Funeral - trying to figure out exactly what I missed the first time. I bought Neon Bible the day it came out. It turned out to be my favorite CD of 2007, and remains - along with Funeral - one of my favorite CDs. I probably would have come around on Arcade Fire either way, but more than any other, this song still represents discovering a favorite band.

1. Sigur Ros - Popplagið ('Untitled 8')
"The climax to end all climaxes"

Almost all of '( )' seemed like a buildup toward something. The slow pace (which it's been heavily criticized for), the dirges that didn't seem to make any progress on their own; after the catharsic blasts of Ágætis Byrjun, they couldn't really make a full CD without letting loose...... could they?

The short answer is 'no'. The long answer is the final * minutes of the final track on the CD (technically called 'Untitled 8', but generally refered to as 'Popplagið'). The song starts out similarly to all the other tracks on the CD, but around 6:30 in, symbal crashes and a to this point unseen sense of urgency creep in. The feeling simmers for a full three minutes......

Then it all breaks loose, finally exploding full force ten (!) minutes in, and somehow it keeps building and building... until just when you think it can't build any more, Jonsi's voice goes up and echoes across the track as the rest of the song explodes. It is truly the musical climax to end all climaxes.

So, there you have it. Sorry again for the delay, regular posting resumes... well... sometime. You know me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Favorite Moments in Music: Part Four (20-11)

20. Tenacious D - Tribute
"And we said, 'nay, we are but men' - ROCK!"

It would take a bitter soul (or at least a strong aversion to profanity) to dislike Tenacious D. 'Tribute' is, of course, their shining moment. Shortly after defeated the shiny shining demon by playing the best song in the world (then forgetting the song shortly thereafter), the above quoted line is said and then they let loose. In that moment, the song is taken from being a great parody/homage to great rock songs of the past to being a song that surpasses the very songs that it refers to. All I know is that when they mention that the song they played that night didn't sound anything like 'Tribute', I'm not entirely convinced.

19. Outkast - B.O.B.
"The entire first verse"

There might be a technically better rap than Andre 3000's in the first verse of B.O.B. (though there would certainly have to be a discussion before I'd concede that point), but I can guarantee there aren't any that are more exhilerating. The beat sounds like it's on fire, and 'Dre raps like that fire is licking at his heels. For the duration of that verse, it's practically impossible to pry your attention from the insane goings on. Big Boi's verse is unbelieveably solid, as well, but it still
pales in comparison to the first part... heck, pretty much everything in the entire genre does.

18. David Newman - Serenity
"Eleven seconds"

For the uninformed, this is the music that is playing during the opening credits to the movie Serenity. The entire track is extremely short (under a minute in fact), and the part in question - where the solo violin meets up with the rest of the string ensemble while the title of the movie is shown - almost lasts for a shorter duration than it took just now to explain where it was in the song. However, it's an earworm of the highest order; I listened to this track a ridiculous number of times simply to hear that little sliver.

17. Modest Mouse - Parting of the Sensory
"The Carbon Freakout"

I don't mind Parting of the Sensory's first half, but it's nothing too special. It has decent lines and an okay melody, but there's nothing there that really grabs your attention when compared to other Modest Mouse stuff. Then comes the 'Carbon' portion of the song, a serious left turn where singer Isaac Brock starts ranting about how "someday you will die and somehow something's going to steal your carbon". It's simultaneously bizzare and brilliant, and while most bands probably couldn't pull it off convincingly, to Modest Mouse, it almost seems more natural than if they had simply allowed the first half to run its course.

16. Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train
"Opening riff"

All aboard! Ha ha ha hahahahaha... Every guitar player I know has played the introductory riff to this song a billion times, and obviously not once has it ever felt half as alive or mennacing as the real thing. It's been sampled countless times, played in stadiums to near death, and still has the "whoa" effect every time it comes on. It almost makes a person forget that there was another three and a half minutes to the song afterwards - almost.

15. Sigur Ros - Njósnavélin (a.k.a. 'Untitled 4')
"Like a sunrise breaking through the trees"

For whatever reason, the first time I heard Sigur Rós, they didn't connect with me. I had no patience for their slow-building music, and this song in particular sounded like a funeral dirge to me. Then a year or so later, I listened to it again, and it just clicked. When those first high notes break through the murk, it almost sounds like watching the sun peek over the horizon, making it a near-perfect soundtrack to a sunrise - you know, if I didn't have a borderline vampiric dislike for mornings.

14. Broken Social Scene - It's All Gonna Break
"gonna BREEAAK!!"

'It's All Gonna Break' is a ten minute song (five seconds short, actually), but what's really amazing about it is that it barely even feels half that length. As the song gets ready for its (extremely) extended finale, Kevin Drew begins to absolutely scream the song's title. All sense of restraint is shredded into a million pieces as the band goes to town, trying to keep up with their ballistic lead singer.

13. The Hold Steady - First Night
"When they kiss, they spit white noise"

I think a big part of the reason I like the second half of 'First Night' is the way the background vocals echo "white noise" with such urgency. Part of it also has to do with how the pent up energy comes out suddenly is a rush of half-desperate emotion. Really, though, the biggest reason is that Craig Finn had spent so much time building these characters up, and suddenly you actually feel the whole thing gel into people that you actually care about.

12. Radiohead - Karma Police
"For a minute there, I lost myself"

I'm not even sure what it is about the end of 'Karma Police' that gets me. Somewhere between Thom Yorke's sighing (despairing? or relieved?) "phew, for a minute there, I lost myself", and the way the ghostly vocals in the background do their whole "aa-aaah" thing it just all works. I could listen to this a hundred times and pick out something different that I like about it with just about every listen.

11. Mewithoutyou - Gentlemen

I remember hearing this song for the first more clearly than possibly any other song I've ever heard. I was immediately drawn to the malevolent sounding guitars and even though singer/songwriter Aaron Weiss was more croak-shouting the lyrics than actually singing them, it resonated with me. Toward the end of the second verse, though, he sings "I said I'd not come back - well, I'm coming back", suddenly losing the backing music entirely as he plainly says "AND YOU'D BETTER BE ALONE" with seemingly barely controlled fury. I'm actually fairly surprised that I was able to come up with ten moments in music that I enjoy more than this (check back tomorrow!), but it's safe to say that none of them match the jaw dropping "holy cow, did that just happen" feeling that this song gave me the first time I heard it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Favorite Moments in Music: Part Three (30-21)

Ha! By my clock, it's 11:59, so I technically got this off on Wednesday. Below are numbers 30-21, tomorrow will be 20-11.

Oasis - Rock 'n Roll Star

"It's just rock n Roll"

It's been said the 'Definitely Maybe' is an unintentional concept album about wanting to be a rock star, and there's no better example of that than 'Rock 'n Roll Star'. Everything about the song itself is big. The hook is big, the guitars are big, and the half sneering swagger / half hopeful confidence mixture all leads up to a big crashing finale where everything comes together as Liam Gallagher states simply "It's just rock and roll". After all, after all the over-analyzing - all the searching for the hidden meaning - sometimes, it's just rock and roll.

29. The Who - Won't Get Fooled Again

It's sort of bizzare that this song is now an elaborate joke involving David Caruso, sunglasses, and some horrible pun that even James Bond would be ashamed to be associated with. CSI:Miami Probably hasn't done much to improve "Won't Get Fooled"s legacy, but the scream is still the capping moment to a truly great song.

28. P.O.S. - Stand Up (Let's Get Murdered)
"Hey yo... light that shit the fuck up!"

The song is good, and the line referenced above is certainly exciting and overall pretty kickass, but the real reason for this inclusion has more to do with fastastic memories of sitting drunkenly on a hotel room floor in Canada at three in the morning, listening to this song over and over with my best friends. We tried to rap along with it, failing hillariously every time, but this was the one line we had down pat. If I remember right, it went something like "mumble. mumble mumble... something, something mumble... HEY YO, LIGHT THAT SHIT THE FUCK UP!! Ah, this is the best song ever!!" The rest of the hotel must have been very impressed. The best song ever, indeed.

27. Boston - Foreplay / Long Time

Honestly, if a person wasn't aware, it would be easy to think the 'Foreplay' and 'Long time' sections were two completely different songs. Instead, 'Foreplay' turns into an extended intro for a song that it really doesn't share any similarities to - and what an intro it is. Whirling basslines, crazy triplets blasting every which direction. We used to pull it up into Rock Band, and once the actual meat of the song hit, we'd simply start the song over (and for the record, Longtime is actually plenty good in its own right.)

26. Radiohead - Reckoner
" ripples on a blank shore..."

When I got back from my honeymoon, a special present was awaiting me. Unbeknownst to me, the internet was all aflutter with news that the new Radiohead CD was going to be dropped pretty much out of nowhere within ten days. Once I got back home, I happened upon news of this, and the album happened to come online almost exactly when I did. I spent the rest of the evening listening to it. It sounded good on the first listen, but it wasn't until midway through this song that I knew how good. Put over that drum beat, Thom Yorke's voice becomes just another musical instrument, and he puts it to great use here.

25. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - We Call Upon the Author

Another one from last year's list. Nick Cave is truly a fascinating person and a great song writer. Demanding answers to deep questions, then dismissing the answers as wordy rubbish. It doesn't lead to any restful conclusion, so of course the dissonant clatter that punctuates each section of the song makes perfect sense.

24. Shiny Toy Guns - Don't Cry Out
"10, 9, 8"

We Are Pilots is one of my favorite guilty pleasure CDs. 'Don't Cry Out' is easily the highlight of the album - the song just oozes that catchy, likable synth pop sound. Something about the way everything boils over during the bridge as it transitions to the chorus just seems right. The fact that it's just about perfect summer driving music just adds bonus points.

23. Mewithoutyou - O, Porcupine
"In darkness a light shines on me..."

The emotion packed into Mewithoutyou songs (especially when combined with the songwriting greatness of Aaron Weiss) makes for a lot of harrowing moments, but it's quite possible that none of them is on par with the complete release that happens at the end of 'O, Porcupine'. It seems to come out of nowhere and suddenly hits with intense force. Mewithoutyou may be the definition of a "your milage may vary" band, but those who overlook them are missing out on something special.

22. Arcade Fire - My Body is a Cage
"The punctuating organ blast"

Neon Bible's end track starts off slowly, with nothing but Win Butler's voice wafting over a very sparse drum beat. Things build a little more with every successive bit building a little more onto the skeleton. Then, around 2:10, the organ blasts its full power, the drum becomes more pronounced, the background singers become fleshed out. It's as if the song had been hiding behind tinted glass before, and has been revealed suddenly.

21. Aerosmith - Dream On
"Dream on"

You've all heard this (mutiple times, probably), so I don't really need to introduce this. With a few exceptions, I'm not a big Aerosmith fan, but the breakdown in Dream On is everything that is right in rock and roll. Steven Tyler kind of creeps me out, but if you want to see how well that he really does in that part, just check out the results when someone else tries his hand at it (skip to 1:35 if you just want to get to the 'good' part).

(Coincidentally, the "Scream On" treatment probably falls just outside my top 50, just because of how damn funny it is).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Favorite Moments in Music: Part Two (40-31)

...In which we continue our journey to find one random internet user's favorite moment in music. Numbers 40 through 31 today. I was lazy yesterday, and posted the first ten without listening links. I've amended this, and they should all be there, and today's should be working as well. Listen away!

40. Metallica - One
"The machine-gun riff"

This one is almost too easy. 'One' is great, anyway, from the opening guitar line to the ridiculous solo that gets laid down in the second half of the song. The part that everyone always seems to talk about, though, is the "machine gun riff". One would think that it lasted five and a half minutes, but it actually lasts a couple of seconds, and doesn't even bookend the song, as there's another solo or two after it. Even so, it's easily the most memorable part of the song for me, and it would seem I'm not alone in that sentiment.

39. Grizzly Bear - While You Wait For the Others (live)
"All we want"

This was number three on last year's list, and I have to say that while Veckatimest is pretty darn good, I still prefer the 'Morning Becomes Eclectic' version of this song. The bridge still gets me every time I listen, and the lead back to the last chorus is still awesome. Check here for what I had to say about it last year.

38. Foo Fighters - The Best of You
"The best - the best - the best"

The Foo Fighters have no small supply of explosive crescendos, but my favorite has got to be the one found in "Best of You". As is often the case with my favorite bits of songs, everything about the song comes to a slow stop, before Dave Grohl begins shouting out the hook.

37. Bob Dylan - Like a Rolling Stone
"How does it FEEEEEEL"

As a disclaimer, I feel that it's important to note that I'm not really all that much of a Bob Dylan fan, nor do I have any reference or context to try to make any grandiose statement about his music. That being said, who can possibly resist 'Like a Rolling Stone'? Feeling schadenfreude toward someone who's been taken down a peg or two has universal appeal, and when the singer half-shouts "HOW DOES IT FEEEEEL!?", the listener knows exactly how it feels - on both sides of the coin.

36. Blonde Redhead - Spring and By Summer Fall
"Comet-tail guitars"

'Spring or By Summer Fall' is a decent song. Dreamy vocals, fuzzy guitars, and an overall feeling of being in a fog permeate the majority of it, but in between the verses the real hook to the song takes off. This guitar line, done by what the AllMusicGuide review descriptively called "comet tail" guitars, is about as blissful as anything I've heard. They're almost shoegazey, without the extra heaviness or disoriented feeling that that particular tag often assumes - just beautiful and soothing.

35. Viktor Vaughn - Let Me Watch
"Vik trips up"

Daniel Dumile (MF Doom, Viktor Vaughn, DOOM, etc, etc, etc...) is always at his best when he's in character, and he's rarely been as good or in character as he is in 'Let Me Watch'. The song chronicles the short-lived romance between Viktor Vaughn and a young girl. She thinks he's a rogue with a heart (spoiler alert: he's not). Things take a hillarious turn toward disaster when Vik's true intentions are found out. The girl goes apoplectic; Vik goes home empty-handed. Her furious rantings and his barely-interested responses take an already good song to the next level.

34. Mew - Fox Cub/Apocalypso
"As threatening as Mew could ever sound"

Mew does not make angry sounding music, prefering to usually craft loud, but wandering songs around extremely vauge lyrics. However, toward the end of "Fox Cub" (a relatively docile affair), a darkness begin to build in the music, leading up to some absolutely jagged sounding guitar in the opening notes to Apocalypso. The beggining rushes forward as if propelled by angry hornets until that ghostly, oddly high-pitched voice pulls things back together. The rest of the song sounds pretty standard for Mew, but there's still that dark undercurrent.

33. Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution - Here's To Life
"Every rebel soldier wasn't fired..."

I have envy in my heart towards my brother, he's actually seen BotAR in concert. He says they're amazing. I can believe it. My favorite song of theirs is a missive at the writer's heroes who were all taken (or took themselves) from the world far too early. The bridge slows the pace as Tomas Kalnoky sings "every rebel soldier wasn't fired... some have quit", before later raising a toast of sorts to them all and affirming (probably mostly himself most of all) "here's to life".

32. Nobuo Uematsu - Advent: One-Winged Angel

Allow my inner nerd to get sidetracked for a moment here. Nostalgia aside, the version of "One-Winged Angel" that shows up on the original Final Fantasy VII soundtrack doesn't really pack the punch that it once did (that's not a slam against classic VGM - I actually own the soundtrack to FFVII, and continue to enjoy it - there's just no reason to listen to that particular version of the song when better ones exist).

Now that we've establised that, the Advent Children version of One Winged Angel showcases just how good a composition the original had the potential to be. The orchestra crashes all around as rocking guitars chug away. The thing everyone remembers about this OWY, though, is the vocalists. That the lyrics are in Latin makes it all the more ominous sounding, and when the name of the game's antagonist is shouted out, it just plain kicks ass. I may be a video game nerd, but this song stands up just fine against anything else out there.

31. Viva Voce - Alive With Pleasure
"The begining / ending"

With the first notes to The Heat Can Melt Your Brain, Viva Voce decided not to waste any time. They launch directly into an extremely catchy guitar & drum stomper. Turns out, though, that the begining is completely misleading. The meat of the song is nothing at all like the opening, it feels grafted on from a different song. The middle is beautiful and all, but it doesn't really feel right until the buzzing guitar comes to take back the song.

Note: I've included the semi-bizzare music video, because it's the only version I could find.

The list continues with 30-21 tomorrow!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Favorite Moments in Music: Part One (50-41)

Late last year, I jotted down my 20 favorite snapshots in music for the year 2008. It was fun enough that I decided to just go ahead and chronicle my favorite moments in all of music. I'll be doing ten a day, starting today and ending on Friday with number one.

These aren't necessarily my favorite songs (though several of my favorites do show up.) These are just the tiny bits and pieces of songs that really get me - the fist pumpers, the heart melters, the plain old "what the hell??" moments that make listening to music such an enjoyable and rewarding pastime.

Behold the list. Feel free to comment. Feel even freer to sample the songs by clicking the links that I'll be including with every entry.

50. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You
"Because you're miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine"

We'll start things off with the oldest song on the list - the novelty classic "I Put a Spell on You". The song itself jangles around unnaturally like a zombie, but it's often forgotten how good Screamin' Jay's voice really was......of course, it's hard to notice that fact when he's ranting and raving about putting spells on the object of his affections. Why? Because you're mine, of course. Or rather, becaaaaaause you're miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.

He does it a couple of times in the song, but the best one is around 1:05 in.

49. Blindside - Sleepwalking

I hadn't listened to 'Silence' in quite a while, and while not all of it resonates in quite the same way that it once did, the bridge to 'Sleepwalking' is still a shiver inducing moment of the highest order. The bridge stands out amongst the shouted verses and anthemic chorus in its laid-back sparcity, but the best part comes as the band cuts out as Christian softly sings "goodbye", before coming back in full fury for one last go at that chorus.

48. Mogwai - Friend of the Night
"The bridge fades into the chorus"

I love "Friend of the Night". I'm sure Mogwai has put out other stuff that is more "critically respected" (and a quick glance through those critics' websites tells me I'm right), but aside from "Hunted By a Freak", there's no other song in their catalog that pushes all the right buttons for me. The bridge to the song is a simple piano line repeated a bunch of times. It's beautiful, and stands in contrast to the swirling guitars and heavy drums that make up the rest of the song, but you don't realize how fantastic it really is until it starts building in intensity and allows the big, molten post-rock hook to the song to play over the top of it. All of well-respected dissonance from their earlier stuff can't match up to those 5 minutes.

47. Sölvi Blöndal - Assault Team (mp3)
"Electronica + Rock + Strings = Instant joy"

Sölvi Blöndal (from the band Quarashi) was apparently commissioned by the makers of the video game EVE-Online to make song tracks for the soundtrack, and I have to say, he did his job well - all of the tracks sound great. The standout track is "Assault Team", an edgy rock-laden electronica song that packs an energetic punch. Once the strings come in over the top of all of that, it's just too good (a very similar song, in terms of string built rock-electronica - rocktronica? - is found in Jesper Kyd's 'Access the Animus' which made its way onto the 2008 list.)

46. Hot Water Music - The Sense
"The first 22 seconds"

'Emogame 2' was a fairly terrible flash game in which the game's main characters (leading figures from various emo bands) killed celebrities and people whom the author deemed 'sellouts' by throwing LPs at them. One thing that made up for this was the fact that the main part of the soundtrack comprised itself of a loop of the first 22 seconds of this song over and over again. That would initially seem like a bad idea to hear the same 22 seconds over and over again, but the riff to 'The Sense' completely justified it. The rest of the song is decent enough, but the main riff is such an earworm that the whole track comprised of nothing except for it, and I wouldn't have batted an eye.

45. El-P - The League of Extraordinary Nobodies
"We haven't even gotten to the part where it's a joke"

When one listens to an El-P song, they generally expect to hear biting social commentary and cynically snarky lines. 'Nobodies' may be a throwaway from 'I'll Sleep When You're Dead' (maybe not "throwaway", but it's definitely not one of the showcased tracks), but it would be hard to find a song that better distills his style. The song itself is filled with great lines decrying society at large and the whole 'going through the motions' lifestyle, but then at the end, El-P launches into a rant condemning his own failings before exclaiming "I hear the cackles of the crowd, they're laughing at us / and we haven't even gotten to the part where it's a joke."

44. Rob Dougan - Furious Angels (Instrumental Version)
"Just when you think it's over... the good part comes..."

Furious Angels appears to be winding down around the 3:15 mark - right before it builds back up into a string-led, big beat driven monster. My favorite bit is right at the begining of the buildup, where the string section snakes along a melody before expanding and filling out. Strangely enough, it was another online flash game (Avalanche, this time) that turned me on to this song (odd where music gets found these days).

43. Mewithoutyou - In a Sweater Poorly Knit
"A fittingly haunted ending"

Mewithoutyou has some great moments (and this will not be the last one featured on this list), but one of my favorites is at the very end of my favorite mwY CD. The theme throughout 'Brother, Sister' has been "I do not exist, only you exist", and to close out the album, that mantra is simply sung over and over again, right before the song fades out with a harp softly played (but really, can a harp be played any other way?). It's the perfect end to a great album.

42. White Stripes - Seven Nation Army
"The opening bass guitar line"

The begining of 'Seven Nation Army' is actually played by a guitar played through an octave pedal (my bother was crestfallen when he learned that bit), but the fact remains - EVERYONE loves it. When it comes on the radio, I don't think I've ever seen the channel turned - in fact, most of the time it gets turned up. Seriously, give it another listen and tell me that's not a great riff.

41. Faith No More - Epic

What is it? Theories range anywhere from drugs, to masturbation, to nothing at all. In the end, it really doesn't matter - what it is is a damn good song. A strong case could also be made for the soft piano playing over the fadeout. That part is also great, but "IT'S IT! (what is it?)" is pretty difficult to beat.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


You see, it's funny because Delmon Young always swings at the first pitch, no matter where that pitch might be located.

Coincidentally, he's got 68 strikeouts and 7 walks this year. For being advertised as coming with "plus power", he's got only six doubles in 245 plate appearances (or about one double per 41 PAs, for reference, Neifi Perez averaged one double per 23 at bats over the course of his career).

The Search For the Worst Song Ever

I'm a fan of using hyperbole and exaggeration to comedic effect. The drawback of this, of course, is that you've actually found the best/worst/biggest thing ever, there's no good way to top yourself.

Very few places is this more aggravating than in the world of music. For example, I would posit that the song "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas is the single worst song to become popular on the radio in recent memory, but one listen to "When In Doubt" by Stentorian - a song that will surely be featured in this space in the near future - and it's extremely clear that there's a difference between "insipidly annoying song on the radio" and "worst song ever".

That's what this search is all about. I'm not trying to find the "annoying song that your coworker's 13-year old daughter insists on playing 12 times a day and if you hear it one more time you're totally going to freak out". I'm trying to find the worst song ever. The worst lyrics tied to the worst melody sung by the worst singer as the worst band ever plays the whole thing - poorly.

A few things I'm looking for in this search...


Pitch perfection is not a requirement for good vocals. I don't believe anyone really thinks Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse) has a fantastic voice, but he makes it work. Many, many, many others.........don't.

Likewise, production doesn't always need to be crisp and clean to fit in with a song. A lot of times, it actually sounds better when there's a little bit of an edge (or, possibly, a lot of edge). With very few exceptions, when things sound like they're being played underwater, in a concert hall a mile and a half away, through ears that have been packed full of mud... something's gone wrong.

This category covers things which cannot easily be explained using things like reason, logic, and common sense. It's impossible to figure out why a certain element of a song is there, because it's impossible to understand the motive behind doing such a thing. Most truly awful songs have at least a little of this in them, but for our purposes, we'll only use this for the particularly eggregious examples.

My humps. My humps my humps my humps. My humps my humps my humps. My lovely lady lumps. Check it out!

Shoddy Play
Fairly self-explanitory. The drummer who can't keep time, the bass player who seems like he's playing a different song, the guitarist who really doesn't know more than one or two chords.

The Earbleeder
An earbleeder is a special kind of awful. Whereas most bad songs are content to simply offend your sensibilities, an earbleeder is a song that almost literally hurts the ears. Shrill voices, screeching feedback, and incredibly bad mixing can all contribute to this condition.

The Cover Song
Cover songs can, in their proper context, be good and can offer new perspectives on old songs. Unfortunately, while it might have seemed like a good idea for your past-its-prime new wave band to take on a politcally charged song by one of the most in your face rap groups ever; rest assured, it wasn't.

I'll be adding a new entrant every so often, along with a link so that the song in question can be heard in all of its awful glory.

Also, starting Monday of next week, I'll be chronicling my 50 favorite moments in music - ten a day. It should be good times.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's Goin' On

In lieu of posting here, I've been doing the following:

* Landscaping (for the most part done, the place is starting to look nice!)

  • * Golfing (been shaving strokes off at a rapid pace... the difference between my best and worst rounds of the year is a whopping 16 strokes!)
  • * Work
  • * Watching the Twins continue to be an incredibly frustrating team to root for (really? no middle relief to be had out there for cheap?). Of course, since the AL Central is just an AWFUL division, we're only 2.5 games out.
  • * Listening to all kinds of different new music (Dinosaur Jr.'s "Farm" is very good, and I've finally purchased "Silver" by Starflyer 59, which is extremely solid, as well).


All that and more. Sorry about the gap; but really, if you've read this blog for any length of time, you really should've seen it coming.

To summarize, I'm back... again.