Saturday, July 31, 2010

Earworm: House of the Rising Sun

Somebody was singing "House of the Rising Sun" last night at work. I love that song, and actually first heard it on an Elektra Records compilation called Rubaiyat. It was covered by Tracy Chapman.

The Rubaiyat compilation introduced me to a ton of bands. It was all current Elektra artists covering other Elektra artists' songs, and I picked it up for the Cure's version of "Hello, I Love You" by the Doors. The rest of the compilation was hit-and-miss, but I wore the cassettes out. It made for good cross-country-skiing music in my bright yellow, water-resistant Sports Walkman.

My favorite version is by the Animals. Holy crap does Eric Burdon look like he is 12 years old. His voice is insane.

A friend pointed me to this brilliant Nina Simone version as well.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Earworm: It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)

About halfway through my junior year of high school the local metal station started playing "It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M. on a continuous loop for an entire weekend. No one knew what was going on, but my friends and I loved it, pointlessly recording hours of the song on 90-minute cassettes. It ended up being a transition of sorts, with a buyout causing the station to change formats from hard rock to alternative and was the single greatest moment in my lifetime of music snobbery.

The resulting station, "The Edge" ended up being my least favorite of any of the Minneapolis-based alternative stations, playing a more mainstream level of alternative music instead of acting like college stations on a larger scale. It didn't last long though, with relatively-quick change back to hard rock a couple of years later. That's when I switched over to exclusively listening to the local college station instead.

So that makes my radio-station casualty list:

REV 105
93.7, The Edge
Zone 105
I'm fascinated by the Minneapolis-radio wars. I guess that's going to be my new obsession.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Earworm: Me and My Llama

Kids' shows were different in the 1970s. I don't know what sort of acid trip was going on at the Children's Television Workshop, but I loved every minute of Sesame Street. It actually continued to be decent until Jim Henson died in 1990. He is my all-time hero, and the main reason I dream of making a living doing voice-over work.

The "Me and My Llama" song has stuck with me since I was a child, only to be recently rediscovered through the magic of YouTube.

There is a warning label on the Sesame Street: Old School DVD that states, "These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child." What I see of children's programming these days is outright depressing. It's all bright colors and soothing voices, and seems to be dumbed down, pandering to the masses. Overpopulation needs an idiot-box for a babysitter though, right?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Earworm: Paint It Black

Do you have a favorite song? One single, absolute specimen that perfectly encapsulates everything that you love about music, to the point where it defines your entire musical experience? Most people have songs that they will always love, as well as albums, bands and genres, but I don't think that many can say without a doubt that they hold one song above all others.

I can.

For me, "Paint It Black," a 1966 single by the Rolling Stones is the greatest song ever recorded. The pounding drums, the sitar, the incredibly dark lyrics, these all come together to make an absolutely perfect single. Nothing else will ever come close to the definitive masterpiece that the Stones captured in those three-and-a-half minutes.

Decca records actually lists the song with as "Paint It, Black," with a superfluous comma breaking up the title. I choose to ignore it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Earworm: Only One

Despite being pretty much just another band riding the alt-pop sound (but with a violinist), Yellowcard is responsible for making one of my favorite entries into the soundtrack of years past. Ocean Avenue was a fantastic album, a perfect entry to be placed into the summer of 2003 time capsule. It was full of mixtape-worthy songs, and had the fortune of coming out right before the emo bubble burst and every single band was making that same sound.

The album that followed, Lights and Sounds didn't hold a single appealing moment for me and the band fell off my radar completely. Apparently they put out one album after that, 2007's Paper Walls, which got great reviews. I don't remember hearing anything about it until now. I guess I'll have to check it out soon. Hopefully my tastes haven't changed too much to enjoy it.

While the whole Ocean Avenue album was excellent from start to finish, the "Only One" single was by far the standout track for me. It was the sound of every breakup I went through up until that point, even going so far as replacing "Pictures of You" by the Cure for a few seasons. I went through a stint of listening to it again when my then-girlfriend and I split up in the summer of 2008, only to come back together a few months later. The song perfectly scored our breakup, as well as our reconciliation. It even made its way onto our wedding playlist. I'm really glad she took me back.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Earworm: Let's Dance to Joy Division

My current taste in music is a lot different than it used to be, but I still love the dismal sounds of my youth. I'm as likely to be in a mood to listen to the Cure or Wolfsheim as I am to listen to Against Me! and the Gaslight Anthem. No matter what though, certain Britpop bands bridge the gap between the two sounds. Oftentimes it's bands like Pulp or Blur that take on that role, but it's the singles that really stand out for some of these tracks.

2007 marked my introduction to "Let's Dance to Joy Division" by the Wombats. They sound like every other UK garage band that came out around that time, and I'm never quite sure what band I'm listening to at any given time. Yesterday's earworm was one, and today's is no different. Misery loves company, and it's a hell of a single, bridging the gap quite nicely.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Earworm: Monster

I've mentioned it before, but I'm a sucker for British science-fiction shows. When Torchwood first came on, I was just getting into the revival of Doctor Who, so I happily started watching the spin-off as well. It's not the greatest show, but still has some really fun moments in every episode, regardless of how cheesy it gets.
The sixth episode of Torchwood opened with "Monster" by the Automatic (or the Automatic Automatic for those of us in the United States), and it perfectly set up the goofiness that had already occurred and would follow in each episode to come. From alien lizards to Cyberwomen, the episodes play out like a midnight b-movie with a better budget and effects. John Barrowman is awesome as Captain Jack Harkness.

The hook of "Monster" gets stuck in my head easily with its paranoid chorus and pogoing guitars. That's a perfect earworm.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Earworm: Send Me an Angel

In my wife's never-ending attempts to influence the earworm, somehow she got "Send Me an Angel" by Real Life stuck in my head. Now, everyone in my generation knows the song through a BMX movie called Rad. Everyone except me, that is. I have never seen it, but would be happy to give it a go. Unfortunately, it has never been released on DVD. The Mrs. says that needs to be corrected. Apparently there is a prom scene on bikes. Lord knows I'm all for unconventional prom scenes.

For some reason I want to watch Gleaming the Cube now. Huh.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Earworm: Super Mario Bros. Underworld Theme

I begged. I pleaded. I had to have a NES. My best friend across the street had one with Rob-E the robot and everything. My parents finally broke down and got me one, right before the SNES was released. I played it 'til my fingers bled. It was the Christmas of '89.

The music first heard in world 1-2 of the original Super Mario Bros haunts my dreams. It doesn't go away, ever. Sure, it may get pushed back by other songs, but it always comes crawling back for more.

Somehow I talked my mom into getting me pop-culture cereals a lot when I was growing up. I remember the Nintendo Cereal system. I had one box of it in the cupboard for probably a year. It came out of the box stale and became instantly soggy when milk was added. Most cash-in cereals were like that, but Nintendo cereal was marketed as being different. There were two bags inside. Unfortunately, that didn't help the freshness one bit. as I opened the Super Mario side and was disgusted. The Zelda side was no better, and I hid the box far back in the cupboard in favor of traditional fare like Rice Krispies and Grape Nuts.

Go Mom. Way to play the nutrition card by getting me stuff that I wanted, but that I would actually hate. Reverse psychology wins once again.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Earworm: (Nothing But) Flowers

I really should get into David Byrne, but  haven't enjoyed his solo albums nearly as much as his Talking Heads stuff.

I actually first heard the Talking Heads randomly when my father took me to a pop-culture exhibit at the Walker Art Center around 1988. The video for "(Nothing But) Flowers" was playing in one of the rooms, and I wrote down the name of the band so I could pick up the tape later. This was at the time when I had discovered They Might Be Giants, and "(Nothing But) Flowers" was right up my alley.

My mom took me everywhere looking for that damn tape. Of course, I couldn't remember the name of the song or album, so I ended up buying a copy of their 1978 album More Songs About Buildings and Food. Upon listening to the album, I didn't hear what I was looking for, so the tape went into its case. I didn't like it at all.

Finally, I found a copy of 1988's Naked, which contained "Nothing But Flowers," and didn't care for the rest of the album very much. It went into the tape case too.

It wasn't until a couple years later that I heard "Burning Down the House" on the local radio station. That made me run out and get a copy of the Stop Making Sense live album and look into their back catalog again. I dusted off the More Songs cassette and gave it another listen. I just about wore that tape out.

Note to self: Add the Talking Heads DualDisc box set and the Blu-ray of Stop Making Sense to my Amazon wish list.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Earworm: Now That We've Found Love

Okay, so here's the thing. I may or may not be writing a rap song. As a very pale, very Irish lad form the 612, I have no flow. I'll be the first to admit it, and my wife will be the first to remind me if I forget. So I'll write about what I know: Action figures, Harry Potter, Stephen King and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don't think that this is going to turn out well if I actually go through with it.

That said, every time I stop thinking about possible nerdy lyrics and start thinking about possible music, "Now That We've Found Love" by Heavy D and the Boyz gets stuck in my head. I'll have to track him down and have him spit a guest verse for the remix when I get famous.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Earworm: Seeing Double at the Triple Rock

When I left Minnesota there was a relatively new dive bar that I would occasionally hang out at called the Triple Rock Social Club. I didn't really like it there at the time. The back room was a decent size, but to get there I had to go through the front door and down a very narrow walkway past the bar. There wasn't much room to move between the bar stools and the wall, and the other patrons liked to sit with their stools pushed back as far as possible and glare if I bumped into them.

Apparently that all changed after I left. I guess they expanded and added a stage in 2003 where every band that I wish would come Knoxville but would never play here in a million years plays.

I actually had no idea about the expansion until I heard "Seeing Double at the Triple Rock," an ode to the bar from the 2006 NoFX album Wolves in Wolves' Clothing. The song describes the revelry and debauchery that I miss so much about my city. I'll mark that in the "pros" column in trying to talk my wife into moving up north. She will still refuse.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Earworm: Together

I miss '80s television. I really do. There was something wonderful about sitting right in front of the TV in my sleeping bag with all my He-Man and Star Wars toys around me.

Watching Silver Spoons was a weekly tradition in my house, at least for me. I remember watching some shows with my parents, but can't recall ever sitting down for an episode of Silver Spoons with them. All I know is it was on right before my bedtime, and that I had to fight to stay up through the closing credits. I seem to remember there being a little more show either during or right after the credits rolled. That's probably why I sit through every movie until I'm the last one in the theater, too.

The Silver Spoons house was every kid's dream. I always wanted the duck phone.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Earworm: Radio Nowhere

I'm a sucker for some Springsteen. "Radio Nowhere" took me a while to get into, but now I rank it up with the best of his songs.

Today's earworm energy was spent finding "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker and the All Stars, the unknown earworm from a few days ago.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Earworm: Fed Up

New music! Praise the music gods for new music.

A friend sent me a link to AM Taxi, thinking that I would like them because I love the Gaslight Anthem. They have a similar sound, but I watched the video for "Fed Up" and wrote them off a band trying to ride another group's coattails. Then something happened. I gave it another listen.

I'm really glad that I gave them a second chance. I listened to the song again, this time without the accompanying video. I still heard the similarities to Gaslight, but it sounded a little more like American Steel to me that time. A third time and I thought that they sound a lot like the Ataris. The fourth listen made me realize that the singer sounds like John Rzeznik from the Goo Goo Dolls. That isn't a bad thing.

I have since downloaded the entire We Don't Stand a Chance album, and love the whole thing. They are a band made up of influences to be sure, but the mixture is just about perfect.

Now I'm hearing some Taking Back Sunday and Get Up Kids in their stuff. Sometimes derivative is good.

Fed Up

AM Taxi | MySpace Music Videos

Friday, July 16, 2010

Earworm: Little Boxes

I started watching Breaking Bad a couple weeks ago and tore through all three seasons very quickly. That's good television. Now that it's on hiatus for a year, I figured that I would start on the other popular drug-related show, Weeds. Thanks, Netflix instant queue!

For some reason, I kept putting off watching Weeds. I had heard plenty of good things, but the idea just wasn't appealing to me. I watched the pilot a couple of days ago and wasn't very impressed, but decided to stick with it. The second episode was much better, and I figure it's just a matter of time before the show hits its stride and I'm sucked in for good.

The theme song, "Little Boxes" by Malvina Reynolds is a great earworm by itself, but the Rise Against cover pushes it right out of my head. There is a fine line between folk and punk, after all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Revised Earworm: Shotgun

I'm trying to figure out today's earworm. I sort of know the melody but can't think of any of the words. I keep singing it into SoundHound, but it's not helping. It goes like this: Bam-bahhh (muh-nuh), meneh-meneh-meh-neh (meh-neh, mehh-neh). The closest thing that I can find is "Land of 1000 Dances" by Wilson Pickett, but that's not it. It's similar though. Anyone have an idea?

I want to say it goes something like, "Night train (muh-nuh), do the alligator (meh-neh, mehh-neh), little bit of soul now (meh-neh, mehh-neh), give it to me now."

Found! It was "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker and the All Stars. I can finally rest.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Earworm: The Middle

I'll take the easy route today. No matter what song is running through my head, on most days "The Middle" is somewhere right behind it.

I drove to Madison to see some friends one weekend in 1999 and while I was there, someone gave me a copy of Clarity by Jimmy Eat World. I was hooked after one listen and played it several times on the drive back to Minneapolis.

Two years later I was at a record store for the midnight release of Bleed American. I took off the plastic wrap, popped in the disc and was immediately drawn to "The Middle." If any song was going to get them noticed, that was it. I was right.

Bleed American played constantly for the next six months. It was my soundtrack to the end of Minneapolis, my short stay in Florida, and the beginning of Tennessee. Like Clarity before it, each song sounded like it was written specifically for me.

Jimmy Eat World have released two more albums since then, one of which I didn't care for and one that I liked quite a bit. Rumor has it that they will release a new album in September They just announced that a new album titled Invented will be released on September 28, just in time for my birthday. I don't really go to midnight release parties anymore, but will definitely be online to pick it up.

Wow, I had forgotten all about the underwear video. Peer pressure sucks, kids.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Earworm: She's So High

I used to have Tal Bachman's eponymous CD, driven by the strength of the "She's So High" single. I remember nothing else from that album. Sometimes one-hit-wonder status is appropriate. He gave it his all with that first single.

I remember watching MTV any time that they actually played music, hoping to catch a glimpse of the redheaded protagonist of the video. Many images from MTV are burned into my mind by my imagination after never seeing them again. That was one. I caught it once or twice at the time, but today is the first time I have seen the video in at least ten years.

I win though. I got my own redhead in the end and she's so lovely, like Cleopatra, Joan of Arc or Aphrodite.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Earworm: The HIV Song

I can generally take of leave Ween, but the entire Chocolate and Cheese album is one of my favorites from my high-school experience. I don't have much to say about "The HIV Song," aside that it's the happiest carnival song ever about AIDS.

I think some friends and I used it as the closing-credits theme for the short film that we put together for video-production class. I don't think any of us have a copy of the tape anymore, but I do know that we were all soundtrack-minded individuals. We were so ahead of our time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Earworm: Bastards of Young

My wife has been trying to get me to write about "Bastards of Young" forever, but it just didn't feel right until now. I woke up this morning without a song in my head--a blessing after the rainbow song took over for a couple days--and she kept humming songs to me knowing that I didn't want to write about the Replacements yet. She started in with various '80s songs while I was in the shower, but none of them stuck.

She wins. As soon as she got in and I went to towel off, "Bastards of Young" came at me like a truck full of bricks.

The Replacements are one of the most important bands in my life. Most of my music at that time came from mixtapes made by friends, but hey were one of the bands that I found on my own, when I was in junior high and high school. I'm not sure how that happened, given that they were a Minneapolis staple, but it did. I'm sure it was due to great alternative radio stations like KJ104 and REV105, and I'm eternally grateful.

To me, "Bastards of Young" sums up everything that I loved about the city. There is a raw desperation and genuine angst that flow from the music. It just seems so real. The lyrics speak to me like few songs can, making the song still feel like my own personal anthem to this day.

I haven't heard the original version in ages, instead turning to the cover by Against Me! for the past couple of years. It's a toss-up as to which version is actually running through my head, so I'll post both videos today.

There is nothing that I would like to do more right now than hop on my bike with a copy of Tim and ride around the lakes. I miss my city.

Now if I can just talk the Mrs. into moving up north...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Earworm: Double Rainbow

I should have seen this one coming. I can't stop singing the "Double Rainbow" song. At all. It's plaguing every moment of my existence. Thanks, Gregory Brothers. Thanks a lot.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Earworm: All the Lovers

Well, that didn't take long. I heard that that a new Kylie Minogue album was coming out, so I happily searched out the latest video given that her singles are typically well-crafted pieces of earworm insanity. I wasn't disappointed.

I haven't gotten through the entire album yet, but nothing else really stands out aside from "All the Lovers." That isn't to say that the single can't carry the rest of the album. It's a doozy, ranking up there with her best songs. It took one listen to get me hooked and now I can't get enough. I'm pretty sure that the Mrs. is going to be slugging me in the arm for a while. How appropriate that the woman responsible for "Can't Get You Out of My Head" has released the latest pop single that will be the end of me.

I have already searched out the country-music cover by the Scissor Sisters. Now I want to hear a version by Erasure. Please pop-gods, make it so.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Earworm: Violent School

The Dead Milkmen were one of the first bands that I got into in the mixtape days of the sixth grade. Their goofy lyrics and high-energy shouting called out to my 12-year-old self often, and my parents hated it. The Milkmen provided the soundtrack to many a long drive in the car, playing through those big, puffy, orange headphones that came with my cassette Walkman in the 1980s. "Violent School" came from 1985's Big Lizard in My Back Yard. I wore that tape out.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Earworm: Bamboo Bones

My wife says that she is trying to influence the earworm by humming songs that she wants me to write about. That hasn't worked so far, but I know she'll like this one.

"Bamboo Bones" is the final track off of the regular version of the latest Against Me! album, White Crosses. The album leaked a few months early (possibly by lead singer Tom Gabel himself), and I love every minute of it.

The old-school Against Me! fans don't seem to care for the direction that the band has gone in recent albums, which is why I find an early, low-quality leak to be a brilliant marketing move. It lets the fans hear the music and make up their minds on if they're going to buy it prior to the album's release. Old fans might be disappointed, but I think that White Crosses takes everything that I loved about New Wave and turns it up a notch. It's a natural progression that I have embraced wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Earworm: Pumps and a Bump

It's on today. I mean it. We're kicking it old school with the end of M.C. Hammer's career. I guess he had to make this video to counteract the effects of the Hammerman cartoon.

I haven't seen that many male crotch-shots since Labyrinth.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Earworm: Crawl

Lots of stuff was exploding yesterday. My wife said that I ran like a girl when lighting fireworks. I just didn't want to set my beard on fire. This has nothing to do with today's earworm, I just felt that I had to write something.

Yay, Alkaline Trio! Dan Andriano on vocals! I love it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Earworm: Boxer

Promotion time! The new Gaslight Anthem album is awesome. You can get a free acoustic version of "Boxer" today by clicking here.

The Gaslight Anthem - American Slang

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Earworm: The Great Beyond

Sigh. I used to love R.E.M. so much. Anything before Monster was great, but the one low point of Automatic for the People was the song "Man on the Moon," and unfortunately that's the direction they went for years to come. "The Great Beyond" was released in conjunction with the movie Man on the Moon in 1999, and the music was terrible. I don't think that R.E.M. will ever get back what made them great on those earlier records. Luckily the later-career stumbles don't tarnish their back catalog.

Check out 1:27 to see Michael Stipe in full Dr. Frank-N-Furter drag way back in the late 1970s talking about how much he loves The Rocky Horror Picture Show!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Earworm: Ziggy Stardust

Finally, a good song. It's the Bauhaus cover of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust." I love Bowie, I love Bauhaus. I'm also exhausted and don't have the energy to write today. Works for me.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Earworm: Waking Up in Vegas

Damn. Katy Perry got stuck in my head last night. I knew it would come to this in the morning. She's nice to look at and all, but her music is absolutely obnoxious. I'm working hard to get rid of this one.

On the plus side, I can finally write about this: At my last job, Katy Perry's song "Thinking of You" played on the Muzak constantly. I wanted to slam my head into the wall each time it came on. I did find one part that I loved though. She sounds like a cross between a cat being drowned and Alanis Morissette having a stroke at 1:31 when singing the words "Indian summer."