Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #20 Presidents of the United States of America "Presidents of the United States of America"

The Presidents of the United States of America The Presidents of the United States of America, 1995

If you'll recall from my post on In Utero, I bought this album on tape in the same shopping trip as I bought that album on tape. But, while I realized that I was not ready for that album, THIS album was exactly what I was looking for.

I remember listening to it with my Dad and being slightly embarrassed that the first song, "Kitty", had such blatant and gratuitous profanity in it, but it wasn't an issue and the rest of the album, if I'm remembering correctly, is completely devoid of any obscene language at all. Which I'm just realizing is an interesting choice to make. Usually albums aren't so lopsided like that.

This album, and it bleeds into the other album I own by them so maybe it should read "this band", is what you'd get if you took a jazz band, gave them the synopses of 5 or 6 children's books, and then told them to make a garage rock album. This album sounds like what that would sound like if it worked. It's an album full of bugs and spiders and frogs just sort of wandering through life. Maybe the genre is "Slacker Animalcore".

Amid all of this are glimpses into the similarly slackerish lives of humans. Having an intense and admittedly awkward encounter with a stripper as an adolescent in "Stranger" or highlighting our base drives towards exhibitionism and notoriety in "Naked and Famous". In fact, the "anthem" of the album is a fantastic song called "We Are Not Going to Make It" which is especially fun for me because it was played by Misc. Debris, a band that a lot of my friends were in solely for a talent show, that did not, in fact, make it. They were disqualified for getting watermelon juice on one of the curtains. Or for smashing watermelons when they said they wouldn't. Or something. It was awesome. [EDIT: I have now been shown a video of the Misc. Debris performance and the song was not played at that time. I will continue to update on this miniscule part of the post as events are clarified by other people on Facebook.]

The Presidents of the United States of America are such a fun band and this album is not only fun, but also REALLY good. If you have only heard "Lump" and "Peaches", then you have a good idea of how fun it might be, but this album will blow those expectations out of the water.

Presidents of the United States of America - Kitty
Presidents of the United States of America - We Are Not Going to Make It

You can buy The Presidents of the United States of America at Amazon, Amazon MP3 (lots of bonus tracks!), and iTunes (same bonus tracks as on Amazon MP3!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday (UK Edition): Kiesza "Hideaway"

Clearly, the most impressive thing about this video is that it's all one take. And it has some complicated stuff going on! I would be very interested to know how long this took to film.

Ok, I have looked on Wikipedia and apparently, she was working on a recently broken rib, so that is even MORE impressive.

Oh, also, that's Brooklyn, not London as I had thought (I should have been able to tell it was America from the street sign at the beginning). And she's Canadian not British as I had thought

The song isn't from an album. At least not yet. It debuts at #1 in the UK.

Monday, April 21, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: The Story So Far (The Bottom 80)

As we head into the top 20, here's a handy collection of links for the 80 albums I've done so far!

100  Cursive - Domestica
99    Tool - Lateralus
98    Everclear - Sparkle and Fade
97    System of a Down - Toxicity
96    Jack Johnson - Brushfire Fairytales
95    Midtown - Living Well is the Best Revenge
94    Bad Religion - Against the Grain
93    Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique
92    Rilo Kiley - Take Offs and Landings
91    Desaparecidos - Read Music/Speak Spanish
90    Carbon Leaf - Indian Summer
89    No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom
88    Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
87    All-American Rejects - All- American Rejects
86    311 - From Chaos
85    Third Eye Blind - Third Eye Blind
84    Less Than Jake - Anthem
83    Tenacious D - Tenacious D
82    Jay-Z - The Blueprint
81    Decemberists - The Crane Wife
80    Mest - Destination Unknown
79    Catch 22 - Dinosaur Sounds
78    The Hippos - Heads are Gonna Roll
77    Alkaline Trio - Goddamnit!
76    Anti-Flag - The Terror State
75    Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape
74    Brand New - Deja Entendu
73    The Starting Line - Say It Like You Mean It
72    My Chemical Romance - Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge
71    Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends
70    Pixies - Doolittle
69    No Use For a Name - Leche con Carne
68    Linkin Park - Meteora
67    Jimmy Eat World - Futures
66    Postal Service - Give Up
65    Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
64    Ben Folds - Rockin' the Suburbs
63    Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magick
62    Sublime - 40 oz to Freedom
61    Coheed and Cambria - In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3
60    Lit - A Place in the Sun
59    Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site
58    Allister - Last Stop Suburbia
57    Rancid - …And Out Come the Wolves
56    Suicide Machines - A Match and Some Gasoline
55    NOFX - The War on Errorism
54    Bright Eyes - I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning
53    Blood, Sweat and Tears - Blood, Sweat and Tears
52    Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Let's Face It
51    Sum 41 - All Killer No Filler
50    The Living End - The Living End
49    Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I am, That's What I'm Not
48    Ben Kweller - Sha Sha
47    Rage Against the Machine - Rage Against the Machine
46    The Offspring - Smash
45    Thursday - War All the Time
44    Carole King - Tapestry
43    Michael Jackson - Thriller
42    Led Zeppelin - I
41    Black Sabbath - Paranoid
40    Kanye West - The College Dropout
39    Counting Crows - August and Everything After
38    Lagwagon - Let's Talk About Feelings
37    Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - Blow in the Wind
36    Alanis Morissette - Jagged Little Pill
35    Blink-182 - Dude Ranch
34    Green Day - Nimrod
33    RX Bandits - Resignation
32    Semisonic - Feeling Strangely Fine
31    Dessa - Badly Broken Code
30    Flight of the Conchords - Flight of the Conchords
29    Nirvana - In Utero
28    Pearl Jam - Vs.
27    Death Cab For Cutie - Plans
26    Ben Folds Five - Whatever and Ever Amen
25    Mad Caddies - Just One More
24    The Get Up Kids - Something to Write Home About
23    Cartel - Chroma
22    Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue
21    Sufjan Stevens - Come On Feel the Illinoise!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

New Countdown: I'll Take Things Rising Again for 1000, Alex

Fitz & the Tantrums
I feel like the countdown these days is super eclectic and I love it so much. We have a great batch of songs as usual this week and I had a fun time, also as usual, making this podcast! I hope you enjoy it!

Countdown #194

Arctic Monkeys
Ben Folds Five
The Black Keys
Cage the Elephant
Fitz & the Tantrums
Young the Giant

Friday, April 18, 2014

One Year, 100 Albums: #21 Sufjan Stevens "Come On Feel the Illinoise!"

Sufjan Stevens Come On Feel the Illinoise, 2005

I tried to tell a friend about this album the other day and was basically unable to describe it accurately while also making it seem like something he should check out. I think that's because this albums SHOULDN'T work as well as it does. It should be a complete pretentious mess! But it's not. It's a beautiful work of art that everyone should hear and enjoy.

I first heard about this album from my wife. One morning, she was checking her email before going off to grad school. I was still in bed, because I had a second-shift job (nowhere to be until 3pm). She started reading me this article (possibly from the Yahoo homepage?! Could it have been??) about this album with super ridiculously long titles and, (I was about to say "for whatever reason", but that's disingenuous. I know the reason) because Sufjan Stevens knows how to title an album in a catchy and memorable way, the album title stuck with me until right before Christmas a number of months later, when I decided to purchase the album for myself (this might not be true. it MIGHT be that I got the songs from my friend Riley and felt really bad about it. but I own the it could have been that and then guilt made me buy the CD later? Whatever. Not important.) and boy was I surprised at what dulcet tones graced my ears when I listened to the album for the first time. It was unlike anything I'd heard before, and remains unlike anything I've heard since, even from Sufjan himself!

It's half avant-garde indie concept album and half 1950's musical soundtrack. The songs have a way of sneaking under your skin, up your bloodstream and into your heart. Listen to "Casimir Pulaski Day" at your own risk. It's weapons-grade songwriting.

I should say that this album DOES have ridiculously long titles. The longest, and my favorite, is the title for a 2:15 long instrumental track:

"The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!'"  

Which is certainly one of the songs that that article mentions. 

All of that novelty stuff falls by the wayside when you actually listen to the music. Sufjan purrs the lyrics which are sometimes silly and sometimes bone-chilling. He epitomizes the latter in the 4th track of the album, "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.". The video is below. It's not the official video, but it's one that I think captures the heebie-jeebieness of the song.

If you don't take my word for it, and want a higher authority than me, then I should also point out that this album made #1 on Paste Magazine's "Best Albums of the 2000's" list. High praise, indeed.

Sufjan Stevens - Come On! Feel the Illinoise!: Part 1: The World's Columbian Exposition/Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream

Sufjan Stevens - The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades is Out to Get Us!

You can buy Come On Feel the Illinoise at Amazon, Amazon MP3, and iTunes

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Neon Trees - Pop Psychology

I don't think Pop Psychology, the new Neon Trees album being released on Tuesday (4/22) is going to end up on many 2014 Year-End lists.

It's weird to start a review of an album that I really enjoyed like that, but it's the truth. Neon Trees remain one of those bands that are on a lot of people's radars but people don't tend to check them out. I felt like I was completely alone in my love of the Neon Trees' debut Habits, but then fell into the trap myself when I didn't buy the follow-up, Picture Show (the name of which I had to look up just now), even though I really enjoyed the big single from it, "Everybody Talks".

Pop Psychology sounds like an album that you might have found in your older brother's room after he left for college in 1987. And I mean that in a very good way. It has all of the pop conventions of that era, but contextualized in the middle of the modern world. Songs like "Love in the 21st Century" and "Text Me in the Morning" make this juxtaposition clear. And it's that very same juxtaposition that I loved on Habits.

I really hope that I'm proven wrong about the Year-End lists, though. It would be a shame for people to miss out on this fantastic synth-pop time machine. But I feel like people still haven't woken up to how talented this band is. If you really want a great example of this, perhaps something to play for your friends, check out that last track, "First Things First" (great closing track title) for a heartfelt song punctuated by one of the greatest musical creations of all time, the Bitchin' Guitar solo. It's a rare beast to find in pop music these days, but when it appears as majestically as it does on this song, you count yourself truly lucky to have witnessed it.

So pick this album up, go home to your bedroom, throw on some neon-frame sunglasses and dance til you drop. Then get up and do it again. See if you don't wake up in the morning with a new favorite album. (I realize that buying an album outside of your home is rare. If you're planning on a download from your bedroom, then at least leave the room and come back, to simulate the experience. It'll feel SO 80's!)

Here's the video for the first single from the album:

Throwback Thursday: 1976

Happy Bicentennial!!!

10. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

I was actually going to play the Peter Frampton song below, but watching the video for this song changed my mind. MAN is it a good song. Sorry Peter. Better luck next week.

9. Peter Frampton - Show Me the Way
8. Gary Wright - Dream Weaver
7. Commodores - Sweet Love
6. Dr. Hook - Only 16
5. The Sylvers - Boogie Fever
4. Captain & Tennille - Lonely Night (Angel Face)
3. Maxine Nightingale - Right Back Where We Started From
2. Bellamy Brothers - Let Your Love Flow
1. Johnnie Taylor - Disco Lady