Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Baauer "Harlem Shake"

Ok, so I felt like I had to do this one this week because there's no telling how long this song will be on the top 10. It might be gone next week! Though, I just realized that blog posts that have YouTube links will now be affecting the Hot 100. That's a cool side effect.

It's an Internet sensation in the vein of Gangnam Style, only ANYONE could do one of these videos. So, it might seem like I'm just jumping on a trend, but that's a little bit what this segment is going for, and the changes that this song debuting at #1 represents are HUGE.

So. What IS this Internet sensation? Well, first, read Sasha Frere-Jones's great article here, where he talks about what it is, what the deal with the Hot 100 is, and what some of the problems with the song are. Then, you can read the Billboard cover story about the man who made this song and sort of a history of the song. Very interesting stuff!

Then go here to see 10 fun examples of the meme.

Here's my favorite:

And here's the actual, full song itself:

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Countdown: Let's Hear It For Squandered Time!

So, I finished last week's countdown pretty much as early as I possibly could. I thought that that might mean I would also be able to finish THIS week's early and get myself into a situation where I was always way ahead of the recording schedule.

But here it is, 1:17 am on Sunday morning and I'm finally getting around to posting the countdown I just finished recording. Oh well. Things come up, you know? And I'm sure I used the extra time that recording early freed up in very productive and efficient ways....

Anyways, here's the countdown! It has 3 bonus songs and is only slightly longer than last week's! Craziness!

Atlas Genius
The Black Keys
Frightened Rabbit
Green Day
Imagine Dragons
The Lumineers
Mumford & Sons
Of Monsters and Men
Silversun Pickups

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Bruno Mars "Locked Out of Heaven"

Here's the song that entered 2013 at #1. It has been sitting at #2 for the past couple of weeks while "Thrift Shop" (which you'll remember from a couple of weeks ago) holds the top position. This song comes from his latest album, Unorthodox Jukebox which you can purchase at Amazon or iTunes

I saw Bruno Mars perform it on SNL and it was really fantastic. I think I don't give him enough credit and I'm sure that if I checked out his albums, I would enjoy them immensely!

And, as a bonus, here is Bruno Mars again, performing "Locked Out of Heaven" and "Walking on the Moon" with Sting, and then "Could You Be Loved" along with Rihanna, Damien Marley and Ziggy Marley in the Bob Marley tribute from this year's Grammys. It was one of my favorite performances of the evening. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Presidents Day!

While you're out shopping sales, reveling in your day off, or, if you're in another country, or you're in America, but don't get the day off, going about your Monday as usual, I will be busy honoring the accomplishments of my favorite Presidents of the United States of America. God bless 'em!

And here, for today only, are the singles from both of the albums I have by them, plus a single from a soundtrack you may have heard of... They are so good. I could listen to The Presidents of the United States of America every day and be completely satisfied with it each time.

From The Presidents of the United States of America (buy at Amazon) (buy on iTunes)
The Presidents of the United States of America - Kitty
The Presidents of the United States of America - Lump
The Presidents of the United States of America - Peaches
The Presidents of the United States of America - Dune Buggy

The Presidents of the United States of America - Mach 5
The Presidents of the United States of America - Volcano
The Presidents of the United States of America - Tiki God

From The Wedding Singer Soundtrack Vol. 1 (buy at Amazon) (buy on iTunes)
The Presidents of the United States of America - Video Killed the Radio Star

Sunday, February 17, 2013

You Guys, I Recorded This Podcast SO FREAKIN EARLY

As I mention at various points in this episode, I was inspired by the Grammys and I actually couldn't stop myself. I only intended to do ONE intro! But then BOOM. All of the intros were done and I was a zombie the next day.

But how could I not? So many songs/bands/albums that we feature on the countdown this week were part of the Grammys, so there was a lot to talk about! Hope you enjoy it!

Countdown #140

Atlas Genius
The Black Keys
Green Day
Imagine Dragons
The Lumineers

Mumford & Sons
Of Monsters and Men

Silversun Pickups

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dessa: The Appetite For Distraction Interview 3

This is the third year I've sent the lovely and inspiring Dessa a list of questions and she has been so gracious as to answer them. As usual, I was blown away by the depth and thoughtfulness of her answers. 

Here are links to the previous two Q&A's: 2011 and 2012

1. You mentioned in the interview you did with WCPN that the working title for the album (not the ACTUAL title, but the title that's on all the files) was Candy Falcon. What is a candy falcon? Is it a bird made of candy? Or is it someone who sees candy from far away and swoops in to nab some?

A year ago, I was working with the guys in the band: Sean, Dustin, and Joey. We'd come up with some ideas for the record and Dustin was ready to save them on his computer. He asked "Do you have a name for this one yet?" I didn't. So we figured that a working title was in order. I think I suggested "Falcon," but that sounded too simple. So we spent a few minutes making up a fake name that felt more sophisticated. Given my pretty incredible sweet tooth, "Candy Falcon" seemed like a great fake title. 

Dessa's WCPN interview from 1/10/13 (includes performances of "Palace" and "The Man I Knew" (NEW SONG) ) (Dessa's portion starts at 28:35)

2. A recurring image in Doomtree lyrics that I've noticed is that of the burning candle. It appears in "If and When", "Little Mercy", and in the title "A Candle in Chicago" among others. Have any of you intentionally picked up on this image? And do you think there's any symbolic reason behind its repeated use?

I actually had to look up "A Candle in Chicago," turns out that's an interlude on a Doomtree release from 2007. Who knew? Very often, songs go by their working titles internally, so none of us remember what the things are actually called. There are a lot of themes and images that Doomtree seems to orbit--sometimes we all find 
ourselves independently fascinated by the same thing. Sometimes, I'm sure we inadvertently infect each other with ideas. 

3. Have you made any progress on A People's History of the United States since last year? If you're keeping score, I still don't have a copy, so you're already outpacing me!


4. Did your trip to Africa influence the writing of your new album in any way? New instruments? New images? New ideas?

My trip to Africa influenced my prose--after I came home I wrote an essay for the Star Tribune about how a safari challenged my ideas about the thoughts of animals--but it's probably too soon to know if any of what I saw will end up in a lyric.  

5. Are you and P.O.S planning to co-headline a tour this spring/summer or are the sounds you'd be delivering too different to make a cohesive show?

This summer, I'll be touring my new record, which is usually a headlining endeavor. Meanwhile, P.O.S is still being mindful of his health--he's got a pair of lousy kidneys and is waiting for a transplant. I think it'll be a while before we're on a routing together, but I expect there'll be a few big crew shows that we'll play together this year. 

6. When you're writing/recording an album, do you avoid listening to other music? Or perhaps do you listen to music that is the polar opposite of what you're writing/recording? I guess this question boils down to: Does listening to other music affect/distract your process?

I'm adamant about fending off obvious influences. When I'm working on something new, I try to avoid listening to artists who I might be tempted take cues from. Having just finished a record, I've been listening to music that's very different from my own: polyphonic Corsican music and some Parisian folk. (Until I wrote that sentence, I thought I was listening to those artists because they were working with different instrumentation and very different melodies--but it occurs to me that I can't understand the words in these songs, which make them pretty safe listening for someone who's anxiously fending off influence as a songwriter.) 

6a. Obviously, I'm going to ask you for some examples of the polyphonic Corsican music and Parisian folk you've been listening to. 

Ha, no sweat. The Parisian artist is Pauline Croze. Maybe she's better described by a word like rock. Or just pop. I don't know, I'm just lousy with those sort of distinctions. Maybe she's just really soft, slow, feminine metal.

Pauline Croze - T'es Beau

Pauline Croze - M'en voulez vous

6b. And the Corsican music?

The Corsican stuff I'm going to play close to my chest--I still harbor a distant fantasy of working with them some day and I'm keeping that card in my sleeve. 

7.  Do have favorite tracks from "We Don't Even Live Here" and/or "Snaxxx"?

Mike and Stef made a really incredible song when they wrote "Get Down." Every night we play it on tour, it's a demonstration of the degree to which human behavior is affected by music. It's like a tide--organic, irresistible. 

P.O.S + Mike Mictlan - Get Down (Official Music Video)

P.O.S + Mike Mictlan - Get Down (Live at First Ave.)

My predilection for more melancholy sentiments makes "How We Land" an easy favorite--contagious, propulsive, aching. 

8. Do you have a favorite publication/source for interesting/thought provoking articles?

Still looking. I make a lot of resolutions about reading, and I end up falling off the wagon as soon as the thing starts rolling. I'd like to be a little more consistent, but in practice, I'm a binger--binge study, binge writing, binge Nutella (fork of it in hand at the moment). That said, my brother just put me on to damninteresting.com. Can't vouch for it yet, but looking forward to my next doomed resolution. 

9. What's the most difficult part of being on the road for months at a time? I would imagine it would be a close race between a) waking up in places other than your home (a concept presented to me by Jackson Browne in "The Load Out") and b) trying to find acceptable food in a new city each night.

First, it must be said, that I love hotels. Every time you slide the electronic key card and push the door open, it's like a scratching a lottery card. Will there be a full bed or a king? Will there be a minifridge? Does that couch pull out? Could that be a piece of choc-o-late on the coverlet?  

For me the hardest part of touring is sleep deprivation. I know a lot of musicians who can function quite nicely on 5 or 6 hours a night. I am not a member of that set. Deep fatigue makes all the little stresses of tour tough to handle gracefully--the rush, the bodily pains, the detours, the late arrivals, rushed load-ins, lousy food, whatever. And after more than a couple of weeks of exhaustion, I get emotional. It doesn't take much to make me sad or angry--which is not a good starting position for a person who lives within 3 feet of her colleagues for 17 hours a day. All said, however, I've got a hell of team. If you're going to be encased in an speeding van for a great deal of your life, you've got to pick some great travel companions. And I ride with some incredible players, and some incredible people. 

That'll do it for the Q&A. I'll tweet you the link when I've published it. Hope to see you in DC soon. Take care. Get some sleep! :)

Please do! I'm hoping to head your way soonish. Hard to sweep the same region too frequently, but I give us a 36% of heading through in May. 

I will take those odds. You can find her published tour dates, as well as the tour activity of all of the other members of the Doomtree crew, HERE. Details of her SXSW appearances haven't been listed yet, but keep an eye on that page and you'll have that info soon enough. If Dessa is performing near you, you owe it to yourself to see her. Trust me.

As always visit Doomtree's Website for info, merch, and more!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: The Lumineers "Ho Hey"

So this is the little song that could. I often complain on the Countdown about how this song doesn't ever seem to get going, but this video almost makes it seem like it does.

I looked at videos for two other songs in the top 10 of the Hot 100, but they were both REALLY intense. I mean, I enjoyed the videos and the songs, but we'll hold on to them and see if they stay in the top 10 until next week.

This video seemed right to post. It's simple, fun, and sweet. Like the song, really. :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Recorded this New Countdown on Thursday And I'm happy I did!

I had such a busy couple of days and I just wouldn't have been able to have this week's post up on time if I hadn't recorded early. Let's hear it for doing things earlier than the last minute!

*Applause Break*

So, here's the new countdown. It's quite enjoyable and good and fun.

One last thing: If you can watch the Grammys tonight, I'd recommend it. I think it's going to be a pretty great show. The nominees in the categories I noted are amazing. So check it out. I'll even tell you when/where it's on...It's on CBS at 8 pm ET/PT (Because, screw you Mountain Time). So check it out!

Atlas Genius
The Black Keys
Green Day
Imagine Dragons
The Lumineers
Of Monsters and Men
Mumford & Sons
Passion Pit
Silversun Pickups

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Macklemore + Ryan Lewis "Thrift Shop (featuring Wanz)"

So I think that there are a number of song on Billboard's top 10 of the Hot 100 that are worth listening to these days, so I thought I'd bring this little feature back (especially since I thought of writing it on Monday night!)

This song is currently #1. The video is fantastic. The message is great. More next week.

Here's another song by the same guys from the same album that makes me cry. Again, great video, great message, great song.

And if you like both of those, you should buy the album. Here's the iTunes link. And the Amazon link. And the Spotify link (if you just want to listen).

Monday, February 4, 2013

Monthly Poll: U2 - Zooropa

So I want to focus a little more on these Alternative Album Grammy Winners that I'm playing for bonus songs on the Countdown. So I think, on the first Monday of every month, I'm going to do a little retrospective poll related to the album from the proceeding month.

So, January's album was U2's Zooropa

Please answer the following questions in the comments section. (If you don't have an answer, feel free to skip the question)

1. What is your favorite track on Zooropa? (Spotify)

  • Zooropa
  • Babyface
  • Numb
  • Lemon
  • Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
  • Daddy's Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car
  • Some Days Are Better Than Others
  • The First Time
  • Dirty Day
  • The Wanderer
2. What is your favorite U2 album?
3. Which do you feel should have won the Grammy, if not Zooropa:
  • Belly Star
  • Nirvana In Utero
  • Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream
  • R.E.M. Automatic For the People

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Countdown, EXACT Same Duration!

So it just so happens that I got the exact same recording time for this one, TO. THE. SECOND. I mean, did I realize that it was probably going to work out that way when I was recording the last intro? Yes, I did. It's still cool, you guys. You don't see this kind of thing very often.

Countdown #138

Atlas Genius
The Black Keys
Green Day
Imagine Dragons
The Lumineers
Mumford & Sons
Of Monsters and Men
Passion Pit
Silversun Pickups