25 September 2009

friday five - 25.09.09 - death death death!

There's been a lot of talk about death recently. For that matter, there's been a lot of death this year period (not that people don't die every year - I'm just saying that there have been a lot more famous people kicking the bucket than usual, or so it seems). Dom DeLuise, Michael Jackson, David Carradine, Farrah Fawcett, Billy Mays, Ed McMahon, Ted Kennedy, Les Paul, Mollie Sugden, Patrick Swayze, Walter Cronkite, Bea Arthur, John Hughes --

-- oh yeah, and btw we're all going to die in 2012 blah blah blah --

-- the list goes on. Seriously, this has been one of the most morbid years I've had the pleasure of experiencing. Add to that a completely random conversation I had with my supervisor about the afterlife, reincarnation, and the Big Bang, and now you have the reason behind this week's theme. Death death death, life after death, death after death, nothing after death, blah blah death.

So, enjoy celebrating the death of another workweek and the death of this summer (ooh! that would have been a good one! too bad it would have killed my bandwidth! ha ha ha!) by listening to some songs (et cetera) about death. Yippee!

Bat for Lashes - "The Big Sleep" (mp3|4.17MB): If this album doesn't make it as one of my top ten albums of 2009, I will consider the shit to be officially shocked out of me. (Five seconds for you to recover from that mental image. Five, four, three -- PSYCH, you only get three.) Aside from "Daniel," which holds my personal vote for being one of the most moving tracks of the year, the entire album is filled with such lovely, haunting melodies that could either be accused of putting someone to sleep or keeping them awake. On this track, a slightly different feeling of unease overtakes the inherent beauty that lies in this song's simplicity. It's not bad, it's just Scott Walker. My God, that man is creepy.
(from the 2009 album Two Suns)

Carina Round - "For Everything a Reason" (mp3|7.28MB): What the hell is wrong with me? Following up a soft, gorgeous song with another soft, gorgeous song? It's all part of my master plan. No, I don't know what this plan involves, but trust me, it's going to be epic. Like the thought of those who loved before being brought back together. Just trust me.
(from the 2009 album Things You Should Know)

Modest Mouse - "The Parting of the Sensory" (mp3|8.05MB): First off, I want to diss on all you haters (THAT'S RIGHT, I'M DISSING ON HATERS) who expressed even the meagerest form of disapproval to Modest Mouse's 2007 release, calling it "too polished." I was quite pleased with the return to a rougher Mouse, so I don't know what y'all are talking about. Anyway, this song's basically about the fact that we're all going to turn into worm food so it's probably not a good idea to waste your time on Earth hating on an album that was made by a better band than yours with better production equipment than you own. (Oh yeah. I went there.)
(from the 2007 album We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank)

The Notwist - "Off the Rails" (mp3|3.17MB): Sometimes simple is better. With repetitive, minimalist lyrics and a feather-light, staccatoed harmonic structure, this song drives home a book's worth of feeling in slightly more words than exist in haiku. In fact, I don't think I need to say any more than that.
(from the 2002 album Neon Golden)

Regina Spektor - "Human of the Year" (mp3|4.57MB): To me, Regina Spektor exists in a realm of artists (mostly female) that seem to make music solely to encourage me to focus on all the details of humanity and my relation thereto that make me emote like a motherfucker. (Please don't try to analyse that sentence. Nothing good can come of it.) Following in the footsteps of the entirety of 2004's Soviet Kitsch, this song takes appreciation of individual reaction and utter humanism to the point where it seems like it could evoke empathy in even the coldest of hearts.
(from the 2009 album Far)

Bonus: Logan Whitehurst - "The Death of Sid Sheinberg" (mp3|6.88MB): Satan is called "Beelzebuddy." There's no way I can justify this song past that.
(from the 1998 album I Would Be a Biggest Octopus)

Okay, I'm done. You can now enter the kingdom of plenty with your seventy-two virgins.

Or, wait. No guarantees. Um. Just forget I said anything.



11 September 2009

friday five - 18.09.09 - gratuitous b-sides and rarities dump #1

First: I want to dispute the legality of me being sick this many times in one month.

Three. Three times. Seriously? Seriously? Oh my god. I'm suing the universe.

Second: I really need to take a class in blog-writing. Other than succeeding at making my posts at least marginally cohesive/intelligible to those whose native languages don't begin with "BLORT" (not to discriminate against you Blortburfians, no really, you're among our most cherished readers), it might enable me to use this blog for homework, with which I have experienced an unfortunate inundation.

Anyway, it's been a while since I've posted something truly pretentious (or anything, period), but prepare to be amazed by my off-the-cuff eloquence and inconsequential fluff nonetheless.

Mew - "Like Paper Cuts" (mp3|3.76MB): There is no reason why this band should not get an award for being the Best Band to Listen To at Night. Almost everything they've done carries with it a very nocturnal sense of being - and while there's absolutely nothing wrong with listening to them in company (especially songs with the atmosphere of "Like Paper Cuts") - it seems a little superficial whenever I listen to them when I'm not alone. Maybe I'm an emo/indie/shoegazing snob, but I take so much out of it when I don't necessarily have to talk about it. (Let's play make-believe. Scene: That last sentence made sense. GO.) Sort of an odd choice for a music blog, but just let the subtle, staccato piano brush over you like fingers tapping on your shoulder. It'll be obvious in a while.
(a b-side from the 2002 UK 7" single Am I Wry? No)

Muse - "Futurism" (mp3|4.75MB): Some songs were created within a studio environment and then tossed because they couldn't be easily played live. This has happened a lot more in recent years due to the improvement of layering technology and synthesizer voices; sometimes, your vision for a piece extends far beyond the capabilities of the number of people in your band. And you know what? That's totally okay. Sure, I'm going to be sad that you can't play it live, but I'll deal. This is a song by Muse that falls into that category, and, for all its gory guitar grinding, has also fallen into my icy hipster heart. (Don't worry, my surgery is next week.)
(a bonus track from the JP release of the 2005 album Origin of Symmetry)

Radiohead - "I Am Citizen Insane" (mp3|3.28MB): There is no excuse for me. (Actually, yes, yes there is. NyQuil. That's my excuse. NyQuil and sleep deprivation.) I don't know why I'm the one who always throws out the trippy instrumentals, but we all have our roles in life. And this trippy instrumental just happens to be awesome. I don't recommend a lot of trance to people, but since Radiohead does no wrong, it might as well be trance by them.
(a b-side from the 2003 album Hail to the Thief)

The Smiths - "Money Changes Everything" (mp3|6.37MB): PREPARE TO FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNEW ABOUT 1980s NEW-WAVE. Okay, now that you've forgotten, you'll have no idea what I'm talking about. (HA HA OH GOD MAKE IT STOP.) If you've ever heard Bryan Ferry's hit single (one of Bryan Ferry's only hits, period), you'll find that this song sounds quite familiar. It should. The only things Ferry added were words. Still, it doesn't matter if you love it or hate it; just remember, a little lovin' is a dangerous thing.
(a previously unreleased instrumental from the 1993 compilation The World Won't Listen)

Sunset Rubdown - "The Weather Can Turn on You" (mp3|4.37MB): I could go on about this band all day. No, wait. PLEASE let me go on about this band all day. I swear I'll be more informed and educated. I don't sit in the bushes outside their practise space with binoculars. Often. (If only.) Actually, the reason I chose this song was that Spencer Krug's voice actually deviates the most from his trademark shrillness here; the lyrics "and I know / that you'll be looking for the heat when the sun goes down / yes I know / that you'll be kicking yourself when the sun goes down" almost sounds like a completely different person is singing it. Either way, he's come a long way, baby.
(an early release, not from an album)

Yes, yes, you're welcome. And now I shall endeavour to be a good student spinster wino and pretend I'm actually smart enough to explicate Coleridge on a level higher than "dude was old / had a beard / was from the sea / smelled like fish." HEY, d'ya know what Coleridge would sound like if he were a 12-year-old AOL user?



Send stuff to fridayfiveradio@gmail.com or MEETETH THY DOOMETH. ETH.

21 August 2009

friday fffffffff ... psych! (21.08.09)

So. Here's the deal, guys. I worked late tonight, it was 96 degrees, the humidity was something fucked up like 278% (people were boating in the sky), and quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I mean, I've got those crippling yawns that consume every bit of available muscle energy and that you have to take conscious effort to recover from.

In other words, tonight's FFR is going to suck. In fact, it's not even going to be a Five; it's going to be more like a One. The Friday One. I didn't even convert it to mp3. This has to be a record.

This is one of those beautifully introspective songs that you know is completely dangerous, but you listen to it a lot anyway because you're a masochist. Oh, it's also gorgeous.

The Pineapple Thief - "Different World" (m4a|9.95MB)

E-mail us at fridayfiveradio@gmail.com if you want to l ... mnleh ... zzzzzzzzzzzz.

14 August 2009

friday five - 14.08.09 - sad songs that make me happy because i'm a horrible person

Do you ever find those songs in your playlist that make you feel a certain way regardless of their emotional intent? I do. For the longest time, I simply chalked the phenomenon up to the fact that I'm unquestionably insane, and left it at that.

However, I'm noticing more and more songs these days that make me feel happy/gleeful/good despite the fact that they're intended to be the most depressing songs in the world. At least for that moment. Now, any normal person would say, "Maybe I'm just getting more abnormal!"

I just think they're doing it on purpose.

And if I come across a mournful piano ballad about birthday cake, new shoes, and smiley faces, I assure you I will be broken for life.

The Hush Sound - "City Traffic Puzzle" (mp3|3.99MB): Nothing says "depressing" or "painfully awkward" like dance-y swing-pop, right? I know, that's what I thought, too! This song was one of those weird "stumble-upon" songs from a couple of years ago. I was obsessed with a video game, and someone else belonging to an online self-help fan group said, "Hey! This reminds me of [insert character here]!" (By the way, did I mention that I'm an incredible nerd?) At first I was like, "oh, but this cannot be so; it seems so happy!" Then I listened to the lyrics. Ha ha, warm fuzzy fail.
(from the 2005 album So Sudden)

The Long Winters - "The Commander Thinks Aloud" (mp3|6.43MB): Despite my undying love for this song (and the future remix thereof), it is not the most substantial Long Winters-related thing in my life. I found out about a year ago that John Roderick is my high-school music teacher's brother, and I'm pretty sure that'll weird me out for the rest of my life considering how obsessive I am with their catalogue. Among numerous other things. Still, though this song isn't really happy-sounding, it has a soaring quality that has a tendency to lift the spirits. If it weren't, you know, about an exploding spaceship, hopelessness, and death.
(from the 2005 album Ultimatum)

Pas/Cal - "What Happened to the Sands" (mp3|4.46MB): Let's put it this way: nothing puts me in a more cheerful mood than demolition. Demolition, and happy memories reduced to a pile of rubble. Actually, that's not true at all. I kind of like happy memories. A lot. Still, you have to admit, this cheerful, poppy relation of an iconic hotel's obituary makes it really difficult to avoid grinning, even with wistful lyrics like, "there is concrete and dirt / where it once stood / and where it once stood, you stood."
(from the 2004 EP with one of the best names ever, "Oh Honey, We're Ridiculous")

Pet Shop Boys - "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" (mp3|4.00MB): If the Pet Shop Boys were masters of any art, it would be the art of making depressing music sound misleadingly like mindless, bouncy 80s pop. However, this is one of those songs that catches you by the title alone, leading you into a strange, conflicting spiral of "wow, I can groove to this," and "oh my God, that poor man" from the very start. If anything, it serves up a sizeable portion of mindfuckery; however, taking into consideration my ever-present state of mind, it should be a natural assumption that I would find this to be an addicting and exemplary piece of music.
(from the 1987 album Actually)

Ra Ra Riot - "Dying is Fine" (mp3|4.88MB): I don't know exactly how to describe this song. It's rife with mixed emotion; one minute, they're talking about the similarities between life and death, and how life sucks, and then they're like, "wait, death sucks too," and then you go to, "hey, maybe life isn't so bad" with an undercurrent of "death might be better." It's kind of like eating cranberries. At first, you're simply admiring how succulent and juicy the fruit appears to be, and then you bite into them and HOLY SHIT they would be so much better as a juice and maybe mixed with apples. Or maybe I'm just horrible at analogies. Either way, this song is so good at being indecisive that it gives me a headache and an existential crisis. It's awesome. Enjoy.
(from the 2008 album The Rhumb Line)

And because it's totally uncool to know how to count:

Voxtrot - "Kid Gloves" (mp3|4.01MB): I fell in love with this song (and this band) based solely on the incredible rhythmic devices they employ. You can't not move when listening to them. They have such a unique sound, and their success is testament to how much it works for them. However, as made out by his online presence, Srivastava seems to be a conflicted person, and this shows in how his lyrics tend to be at least slightly angry and/or depressing. This either makes you wonder why they chose this particular musical form to express them, or perfectly explains it. It's up to you.
(from their 2007 self-titled debut LP, Voxtrot)

I'll leave you alone until next Friday, I promise.1

1 I am notoriously bad at keeping promises.

Everything except for animal carcasses should be sent to fridayfiveradio@gmail.com. It's not that we don't like animal carcasses; we just have nowhere to put them.

09 August 2009

the sunday superlative - 8/9/09

This Week: Grab Bag: 80s Pop

As we all know, film director John Hughes died earlier this week. Mr. Hughes was responsible for some of the most popular and memorable comedies of the 80s, including (but not limited to) The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off. I thought, in the spirit of those films, that it was time to bust out another jovial grab bag of 80s pop. I'll let the songs speak for themselves!

The Hooters - "And We Danced" (mp3|4.43MB)
The harmonica makes yet another appearance, and while it's not quite as essential here as it has proven to be in other songs, it still adds quite a bit of character to what is, dammit, just one of the happiest and most irresistible pop songs of the entire 80s decade. It's so lively and cheerful and upbeat and plain damn memorable that it's no wonder the song was such a rousing success. Unfortunately, The Hooters never again reached the same plateau of musical popularity (fortunately for them, they had the masculine foresight to open a chain of curiously appealing restaurants). Still, every so often this song will creep onto FM radio waves, and every time I'll crank the volume up and bop along. It's joyful.
(from the 1985 album Nervous Night)

Oingo Boingo - "Grey Matter" (mp3|5.37MB)
Ain't nobody gonna deny that Danny Elfman is among the most successful musicians of the last thirty years. It's inarguable. Still, as captivating as his myriad film scores and The Simpsons theme may be, I'm still most partial to his work with the eccentric and often flat-out brilliant Oingo Boingo. My co-DJ is always throwing head-nods my way for introducing her to stuff, but it is to her that I am indebted for Boingo. "Grey Matter" is not one of their best-known songs, but by rights it should be: it has the same jaunty, yet more-than-slightly sinister edge that definies their most popular work. It's catchy, addictive, and purely Elfman. "There's something inside your head," he sings. I know what it is: this song, for the rest of the day. Have fun.
(from the 1982 album Nothing to Fear)

Was (Not Was) - "Walk the Dinosaur" (mp3|4.00MB)
Okay, first of all: dumbest fucking band name ever. We're talking, like, even dumber than Deep Blue Something. It's a good thing "Walk the Dinosaur" is such a groovin' song. I mean, it's dumb as hell, too; maybe not as dumb as the band name, but its lyrics feature at least one instance of eye-gougingly improper grammar (delivered in unison with a head-scratcher of a lyric about roasting pork), and the entire song is just kind of goofy-stupid for goofy-stupidity's sake. The good news? I kinda like goofy-stupid. This song is giddy. It makes me want to dance in the geekiest way, and I guess at the end of the day that means it's done its job right.
(from the 1988 album What Up, Dog? No, seriously, apparently that's actually the title)

All right, folks. That's it for me. Have a good week, and try your best to survive these dog days of summer. Lea's got you for Friday, and I'll be back a week from tonight. Adios!

As always, please send all comments, questions, concerns, and coupon catalogues that neither of us has any clue how the hell we got on the mailing list for to fridayfiveradio@gmail.com. Keep it real, homies.

07 August 2009

friday five - 07.08.09 - that underground sound: (some of) the great alternative influences over the past five decades

First, let me clarify something: it would be impossible to list even the major influences in indie rock in any kind of completist fashion. Rock music as we know it today is as complex as the human genome, drawing from viral and myriad assortments of influences and genres. It's amazing, when you think about it: for centuries, music itself was ridiculously regulated and controlled. Now, we live in a day and age where you can hear Contrapuntus V-style melodics woven around heavy synths and tribal beats, and it's still called "rock." Pretty impressive, huh?

The selection I've chosen for the day was very deliberately intended to be an evolutionary sequence to that classic underground sound - you know, the type of rock that is very obviously rock, but has just enough extraneous cogitation and weirdness to make your typical radio-listener shy away.

"But wait!" you might shriek. "You forgot [insert name of artist]! How dare you!" etc. etc. Chill, yo: I probably didn't forget them: I was simply trying to do this without repeating artists that we've highlighted in the past. Not only that, but it's difficult to fit ten kajillion bands into five slots. I mean, I could do mash-ups, but trust me, that would only result in tears. Lots and lots of painful tears.

With all of that likely-unnecessary disclaiming aside, here's your Friday Five.

13th Floor Elevators - "Splash 1" (mp3|5.42MB): There are few true 60s psychedelic bands that I can listen to for extended periods of time without wondering why I torment myself in that manner at all. I mean, I know the style is supposed to "free your mind" and "encourage love" and all that, but honestly? Some of it actually makes me want to punch something. A lot of stuff (and I mean a lot) was put out during this decade that was considered highly artistic and iconic. I'm led to assume that this is due to the fact that it is very difficult for someone to not be impressed by something when they are stoned out of their mind. On the other hand, take the Beatles. They were always on some kind of mind-altering substance, and they gave the world some of the best, soundest music ever released. And this band in particular, though (incidentally one of the pioneers of musical psychedelia), while not being as globally recognised as the Beatles, were also unquestionably high. They also put out some damn good music; you can tell - especially in this track - where they were a little ahead of their time, tinting the tie-dye with little drops of the progressive age to come.
(from the 1966 album The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators)

Emerson, Lake & Palmer - "From the Beginning" (mp3|5.83MB): I'm not going to lie. When I first heard ELP, I was in the fifth grade. The song in question was on one of the many poorly labelled two-sided mixtapes in my mom's cassette box. I'm pretty sure that was one of the worst first impressions of a band I've ever had, coming out of the experience with the belief that every song by them was as terrible as "Benny the Bouncer." (Funnier still was the fact that my mom had never actually listened to that particular tape, and she'd had it for four years. I told her she wasn't missing much. This, of course, led to her immediate exploration of the tape's contents, her vociferous approval of every track thereupon, and the subsequent repetition of its songs whenever I was within fifty feet of the house. I think she did it on purpose.) Luckily, I didn't end up going on with my life with an eternal desire to vilify this band, otherwise I never would have stumbled upon gems like this one. Very few songs have come to me at exactly the right time in my life, even fewer by bands I've considered to be simply "meh." The beautiful opening riff from Lake's guitar hit me at a rough spot in high school, and I've long since regarded it as one of the staples of 70s classic rock.
(from the 1972 album Trilogy)

The Stone Roses - "I Am the Resurrection" (mp3|14.46MB): 2003 was a very strange year for me, musically. I had just moved out on my own for the first time, I was living in a weird, isolated little hilltop town wherein I knew absolutely no one outside of the people from whom I was renting, and I only went downtown once a week. I went a ridiculous length of time without discovering anything new. Luckily, 2004 marked my move down into the main part of town, and my co-DJ was quick to send me a care package of about ten albums, one of which was the Stone Roses' debut from a decade prior. Let me tell you this: every song on this album marks a cornerstone of modern rock. These guys literally tilled the ground and laid the seeds for almost all the rock I listen to nowadays with this track in particular, utilising the catchiest rhythms, awesome lyrics, and beautifully driven instrumental breaks in order to do so. Not to mention the fact that it's fucking epic.
(from the 1989 album The Stone Roses)

Neutral Milk Hotel - "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" (mp3|6.90MB): Admit it. You knew this song was going to be here. You knew it was going to be here from the moment you read the title. You're probably scratching your head right now, trying to figure out why I posted a download link to it at all, considering every self-respecting indie nerd has this album and salivates over it on a regular basis, not to mention can play this song on guitar even if they don't have a guitar. But I'm a sucker for consistency, so there you have it.
(from the 1998 album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea)

Broken Social Scene - "Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl" (mp3|4.21MB): Everyone remembers the startled review of this album given by an unnamed music site, and then how BSS literally skyrocketed almost overnight to become one of the most critical indie rock acts of the known universe. It was almost perverse. There's a reason for it, though, just as I like to think there's a reason for everything, and it isn't at all a credit to the media: it really just is a solid, nearly-flawless pop record. This song is one of the mellower, more pretty-for-pretty's sake tracks on what is otherwise an exercise in music professionalism and versatility, but it becomes captivating through the fact that it's completely unassuming and simple. Interesting how that works, yeah?
(from the 2002 album You Forgot it in People)

Well, that's it for this week. Check back Sunday for your weekly dose of superlatives; in the meantime, have a great weekend!

Requests, comments, marriage proposals, pictures of gift baskets, and all other forms of communication to persons living or dead should be sent to fridayfiveradio@gmail.com.

02 August 2009

the sunday superlative - 8/2/09

This Week: Bands I Haven't Seen Live I Mean Srsly Wtf

Because I'm all about counterbalancing. And no, The Decemberists are not included. And no, I still haven't seen them. And no, this fact does not lead to me harbor any murderous urges. I have no idea where you might get that notion.

Anyway. I overstepped my limits again and did, like, a lot of songs. But (1) it's been, like, a month and a half, right? And (2) this is a fraction of the bands I want to see. A fraction. It was hard narrowing down by even this much. Srsly.

AFI - "Days of the Phoenix" (mp3|3.17MB)
Oh, AFI. One of those bands I fell for in middle school and, against all odds, I'm still in love with years and years later. I remember hearing "Days of the Phoenix" in 7th grade. 2001. It was the first of their songs I ever heard, and it's still one of my favorite songs ever. I somehow doubt this is ever going to change. But it begs the question: if you hold onto a favorite that long, through all of those tumultuous teenage years, doesn't it stand to reason that at some point one might go out of his way to see a concert by the band in question? Yeah. I'd have thought so, too. Someday. Definitely someday. Or a Blaqk Audio show. I'd settle for one of those, too. Preferably both, though. K, moving on.
(from the 2000 album The Art of Drowning)

Brand New - "Jaws Theme Swimming" (mp3|6.28MB)
I'm beyond denying it: Brand New is one of my favorite bands. I've finally gotten over the fact that they play a style of music I'm usually very adverse to and just come to accept that I really, really fucking love their stuff. And while The Devil and God remains their masterpiece and Daisy remains my #1 most anticipated album for the latter half of 2009, this summer I've also come to realize just how great their 2003 breakthrough Deja Entendu is. It's generally a tad more accessible, but with the same ear for melody and encompassing darkness that makes their 2006 album so brilliant. This, "Jaws Theme Swimming," is my favorite track from it. But of course you'll probably find your own. Oh: and I really, really need to see them live. Really.
(from the 2003 album Deja Entendu)

Daft Punk - "Around the World/Harder Better Faster Stronger" [live] (mp3|7.84MB)
According to literally anyone who has ever seen them live, Daft Punk is one of the greatest concert experiences a person can ever have. Based on the entirety of their Alive 2007 album (in contention for greatest live album ever, and no I am not exaggerating; it's certainly Daft Punk's best release, and one of the finest electronic albums out there) and some eye-popping videos that have cropped up on YouTube, it's easy to see why. Until the day I finally get the opportunity, I'll just sit and drool at this live cut. It mashes up two of their best-known songs into one cohesive piece that makes me wonder why they were ever separate in the first place. It's so amazing.
(from the 2007 album Alive 2007)

Silversun Pickups - "Growing Old Is Getting Old" (mp3|7.04MB)
This song is incredible. That's all there is to it. Far and away one of the best songs of 2009. It starts off as a cool, restrained bass groove, but then at around three minutes undergoes one of the most shattering change-ups I have ever heard and emerges as not only a poignant meditation on life as a whole, but also a complete ass-kicking powerhouse. I can only imagine how it must translate to a concert setting, where the band would be given free reign to just RAWK OUT and tear that second half to shreds. I have no doubt it'd be kind of dazzling, as would hearing most of their discography. Oh man. I don't even want to imagine. I'm going to make myself way too envious.
(from the 2009 album Swoon)

And lastly, so I don't feel completely defeated ...

Apoptygma Berzerk - "Eclipse" (mp3|8.18MB)
Hahahaaaaa. Ha. Ha. HA. Oh, by the way, this is inarguably one of the best electronic songs ever written. Just sayin'. So don't mess with it.
(from the 2000 album Welcome to Earth)

I'll see you guys next week. Yes. Next week! It's time we got this shit back on track!

As always, feel free to send comments, suggestions, requests, or Nigerian bank spam to fridayfiveradio@gmail.com. All forms of correspondence are warmly welcomed and possibly even anticipated.

31 July 2009

friday five - 31.07.09 - livin' live

WOW, what the hell day is it?

Here's the thing: life is insane. Life, people, stuff, things, mostly people, are all batshit crazy. Dude, I've been to more shows than I can handle (haha well actually maybe I could do a couple more IF YOU INSIST) in the past two weeks than I have the rest of the year, set foot in more locations in the past two weeks than I generally like to see in the span of a decade, and screwed up my sleep schedule forever (not that it was ever very consistent to begin with).

Now it's pouring out, and I'm torn between wanting to dance in it and just, like, sleeping until the end of time.

Instead, I'll use this time to recap a few of the bands I saw live. Three of them aren't really mentioned below, but I can refer you to the special I wrote up on the super-rockin' War Tapes and Chris' external review of the opening bands for Junior Boys for the Full Experience.

Anyway, on with the show. And then I'll sleep until the end of time.

Ayria - "Red Shift" (mp3|7.45MB): The electric pink in Jennifer Parkin's voice is daring you to fuck with her. No, seriously. With lyrics and an aggressive demeanour that would put her microphone in league with Scarface's "little friend" (coupled with raw club beats and enough synth distortion to make me happy for weeks), this group was a very pleasant new discovery for me. They manage to mix the attitude of Garbage with the shameless MDMA-laced Toronto club scene, not only making the dancing unavoidable, but making me wish I still had Barbie dolls. If only so I might be able to give them Sharpie tattoos and cut their hair into mohawks. (Not that I, you know, ever did. I mean, I would have, if I hadn't been afraid of taking them out of the box.)
(from the 2003 album Debris)

VNV Nation - "Beloved" (mp3|6.79MB): This is one of those bands that, if you are given the chance to see them live, you must do whatever is necessary to do so. Sell your children. Give up a kidney. (You only need one. It isn't that big a loss.) I've been a VNV fan for a couple of years now, and this is one of the first songs I heard after Empires (which, by the way, is one of the most amazing electronic albums I've ever experienced). It was an instant favourite, mercilessly hooking me in with lyrics such as "We were once young and blessed with wings / no heights could keep us from their reach" and the repeated "eternity awaits." Hopefully, I'm not alone in this - just download and hear for yourself.
(from the 2002 album Futureperfect)

Junior Boys - "The Equalizer" (mp3|6.81MB): Typically, Junior Boys present a downtempo, whispery electronica that doesn't really fall into the realms of the stuff I'm usually into. I remember a while back when they mixed some of the artists I am really into (some examples being The Decemberists, Stars, and Billie Holiday); their additions to the songs didn't really phase me. Thankfully, Chris introduced me to this song's parent album, and with the booster of seeing them rock it live, I can see now why people dig them. Granted, I don't think I'll be stalking them any time soon, but still. It's pretty good stuff.
(from the 2006 album So This is Goodbye)

Iran - "Where I'm Going" (mp3|7.23MB): "She wasted everything she owned defending the throne." I'm going to say one thing: Iran live is nothing like Iran in the studio. Wait, scratch that. They are, but when you listen to their songs on your mp3 player, they sound more like the kind of psychedelic rock that you play when no one's paying attention to the lyrics in music anymore because you're so wasted you could freak out oh god did that lamp just move. I chose this song specifically for that effect, if only because I didn't glean anything like it from their live performance. It was more like - well, a regular rock show. It's definitely interesting to see TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone spotlighted in another element, and I look forward to seeing how he continues to wear these colours. In the meantime, prepare to trip balls.
(from the 2009 album Dissolver)

Destroyer - "Watercolours into the Ocean" (mp3|4.37MB): I don't know what it is about Destroyer (and Dan Bejar in general), but I seem to be the only one in my immediate circle of friends who appreciates this particular outfit of music for everything it's worth. More often than not, I find myself defending Trouble in Dreams with every fibre of my being, fervently chanting "But it got me through my college commute!" I don't know. Maybe Bejar and I have some things in common. I can name two right off the bat: absolute insanity and big hair (though, admittedly, his hair is way more awesome than mine could ever aspire to be). Watch out, y'all: this man deviates from setlists. Taken from the one Destroyer album that seems to be neutral ground for both of your beloved DJs, have one of my favourite Bejar songs to date. Because, believe it or not, it is 1987 all the time. Or, you know. Something like that.
(from the 2006 album Destroyer's Rubies)

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13 June 2009

super saturday - 13.06.09 - down, down, down

I thought what I would do this week is consolidate. Lea is, at the moment, indisposed (as I too will be in a week's time, so this may be the last FFR post for a couple weeks), so she asked me to sub for the Friday Five. Given the expansive nature of the theme I'd had planned for Sunday, I decided to just wrap everything up into one extra-large package this week. So here's the regular five plus the regular three, simultaneously one night late and one night early. Can't beat that.

Now, then. High Fidelity, a great film in and of itself, begins with one of my all-time favorite movie quotes: "What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos; that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?"

It's funny because it's so true. The most famous of all classical compositions may be Beethoven's "Ode to Joy," but more often than not sorrow seems to be the word of the day when discussing what we today consider popular music. What moves us emotionally is entirely subjective, so I disclaim myself in advance, but here are a few choice cuts that seem to deeply resonate sadness. And this is by no means a bad thing: in some cases, these can be as great as music gets. Just don't get too close to the edge.

David Bowie - "Five Years" (mp3|4.31MB)
You know, when Bowie stops honing his image-du-jour and actually writes a song, he can really pull it off. "Five Years" is the first track from his legendary Ziggy Stardust album, and it could possibly be the best song he has ever written (don't make me choose, though; he kind of has a lot). The idea's simple: he, through his Ziggy Stardust persona, observes all the tragedy and sadness inherent in everyday life and gloomily proclaims that, if we carry on this way, five years is "all we've got." Of course, this was 37 years ago and the world has remained much the same, but likewise so has Bowie's message and its impact. I don't care how ham-fisted this sounds. Listen to the way the man belts it out and you can't help it. You're a goner. Maybe songs like this aren't the real reason Bowie is the stuff of legends, but in my world I'd like to think so. One way or another, he's earned it.
(from the 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust)

Brand New - "Limousine (MS Rebridge)" (mp3|10.58MB)
Given time, I'm sure I'll end up posting this entire album. But how can I help it? It's one of the best albums I've ever heard, and it shows no sign of giving up that title anytime soon. "Limousine" is its logical centerpiece: an eight-minute epic about death at the hands of a drunk driver that, by means both soft and loud, slowly works itself into one of the most devastating songs I have heard. I don't know how Jesse Lacey does it, but even repeating the same lyric over and over (but counting up each time) is enough to tear my heart out. And then there's that crescendo, and ... oh man, it's a hell of a song.
(from the 2006 album The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me)

The Cure - "The Last Day of Summer" (mp3|5.13MB)
The Cure should have called it quits with Bloodflowers. I love them to death, but they should have. And not just because their last two albums have sucked a big one, but because it would've been such a fitting swan song for them. Somehow the idea of a band that has garnered "most depressing ever" tags for three solid decades bowing out with an album as mellow, beautiful, and heartbreaking as Bloodflowers just seems right. "The Last Day of Summer," possibly its finest moment, features one of the saddest atmospheres I've ever encountered in a song. I can't put my finger on it, but it kills me every time. And if a line like "The last day of summer never felt so cold" seems cliche on paper, wait until you hear Robert Smith sing it. You'll change your mind.
(from the 2000 album Bloodflowers)

Death Cab for Cutie - "Tiny Vessels" (mp3|5.99MB)
Death Cab's Transatlanticism, by far their best album, is chock-full of moments I find curiously harrowing, but on no song does this feeling reach the height it does on "Tiny Vessels." It's really a visceral reaction, because I can't even begin to describe just why the song does this to me (it's a fairly straightforward anti-love ballad). It just does. Hats off to Ben Gibbard for finding just the right buttons to push. It's atmospheric in evocative ways, melancholy to the core, and consequently it has exactly the desired effect. Bravo.
(from the 2003 album Transatlanticism)

Guillemots - "Trains to Brazil" (mp3|5.52MB)
I listened to this song at least ten times before I realized what it's about. As soon as it hit me, I probably listened to it another ten times in a row. Move over, Springsteen and Bono and all you humanitarian, world-conscious rockers. "Trains to Brazil," an unassuming pop track by a British indie band only seven people have heard of, is the best song about terrorism ever written (it's ostensibly about a man who loses his best friend in the 2005 London subway bombings). If you've never heard it before, step right up! If you have, go back and listen to it again with this in mind. The lyrics will all click into place, and it'll destroy you. But in such a great way.
(from the 2006 album From the Cliffs)

The Hold Steady - "First Night" (mp3|6.74MB)
The Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America is a landmark album, right down to its near-iconic title. I don't know how apparent this was in 2006, or is today, but mark my words: someday it will be regarded as the cultural touchstone of the 2000s. Really, it's the ultimate "youth album" of our generation: the parties, the sex, the drinking, the drugs, the ennui, the depression -- it's all there, delivered with the utmost of care by Craig Finn (whose lyrics are, for what he's getting at, unbelievably good). "First Night" is Finn's honest, touching admission that the party has to end sometime, and if you've put everything you had into said party, what do you have left when it's over? It's a beautifully sad song, heartstring-tugging and true. By the time it erupts into its coda, you rock along not because you're having a great time, but because you realize the imporance of everything Finn has been saying.
(from the 2006 album Boys and Girls in America)

Billy Joel - "Piano Man" (mp3|5.12MB)
Say what you will about Billy Joel. Heck, I even have a few choice words for some of his output. But nothing can change the fact that "Piano Man" is, and likely will always be, one of my favorite songs. It was the song that really put Mr. Joel on the map, and deservingly so. I get the feeling that most of the lyrics here are largely autobiographical, which only makes his ultimate rags-to-riches trajectory seem all the more triumphant. Also: this song totally would've fit right in for that harmonica post I did a while back. Just sayin'.
(from the 1973 album Piano Man)

Train - "Meet Virginia" (mp3|3.65MB)
I've got to admit, I'm really not familar with Train. One of the reasons may be because they're called Train. But I heard this song on the radio several years ago, liked it, downloaded it, and fell in love. It probably shouldn't surprise you by now that it's something of a downer, but it's a poignant one: a sobering look into white-trash hell and the halfway decent people who unwillingly inhabit it. Again, if the description alone doesn't sound appealing, the band's delivery turns it into a low-key home run. It may not be the best song ever written, but it's one I think very highly of. It just works.
(from the 1998 album Train)

Righto. That'll do it for me, folks. Catch you next time!

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08 June 2009

the sunday superlative presents: make-up monday

I totally dropped the ball. I forgot yesterday was Sunday. This is slightly worrisome given the fact that my Sunday routine is notably distinct from anything I do on any other day of the week, but there we go. Just like missing a test and taking it one day late, please accept the slightly-delayed Monday Make-Up in place of what should have been yesterday's post.

"Now you f*cked up!" -- Abraham Lincoln

This Week: This Ain't Usually My Thing, But ...

Exceptions to rules are usually just happy accidents. If you're anything resembling a sensible human being, you tend to say away from music you know you don't like. Still, every once in a while an anomaly creeps onto your radar screen: something you like that you wouldn't normally. It makes you scratch your head. It makes you wonder why. It makes you delve deeper into that particular genre hoping to find more good stuff, then hit yourself because you're suddenly reminded, "Oh yeah, that's right. I hate this crap." Here are a few personal choices for allies living within enemy lines:

Linkin Park - "In the End" (mp3|4.45MB)
I like this song. I really have no idea why, especially because I hate Linkin Park. Hate Linkin Park. Hate everything about Linkin Park, right down to their wannabe-clever band name (which, really, is almost as bad of a name as The Beatles; the difference is, of course, that one of the aforementioned is the greatest pop band of all-time, while the other shares its collective molecular structure with that of raw sewage). But, uh, yeah. "In the End." I like it. There's no good reason for me to hold this opinion: it's just one of those "I liked it in middle school" songs that inexplicably stuck (and this in itself is weird, because in 7th grade I thought Electric Light Orchestra was the shit -- AND THEY ARE -- and really wasn't listening to, ya know, Linkin Park). You'll probably download it and think it's crap. I wouldn't blame you, either. But I've gotta be honest when I post these blogs, right? Right.
(from the 2000 album Hybrid Theory)

Electric Light Orchestra - "Don't Bring Me Down" (mp3|4.66MB)
Who the hell is Bruce?

Streetlight Manifesto - "A Moment of Silence" (mp3|7.17MB)
Back on track. I'm really not a fan of ska, which makes the fact that I'm really a fan of Streetlight Manifesto somewhat curious. But they're good. They're really good. Good enough, even, to convince me that getting trampled for two hours can actually be fun. "A Moment of Silence" is, in my humble opinion at least, the undisputed highlight of their 2003 debut Everything Goes Numb. It's one of the slower songs, to be sure, but melodically rich and highly satisfying. Of course, I'm depriving you of its considerably-sped-up counterpart "A Moment of Violence," but hey. You need something to keep digging for, right?
(from the 2003 album Everything Goes Numb)

Titus Andronicus - "Arms Against Atrophy" (mp3|9.72MB)
Anger. Despite (or, more likely, because of) my sarcastic disposition, it is honestly not something I experience very much of. As a result, the seething rage of this New Jersey-based punk band, named after Shakespeare's most notoriously brutal and bloody play, is likewise not something I've ever really been able to get into. The Airing of Grievances was far from my favorite album of '08, and the effect of listening to it as a piece yields the unfortunate effect of having all the songs smear together into one murky, pissed-off blur. Still, there's an exception to every rule. From my first listen, there was just something about "Arms Against Atrophy" that grabbed me. What is the secret ingredient that sets it aside from its admittedly similar counterparts? Is it the bleak, apocalyptic melody? The curiously enigmatic lyrics? The fact that, no shit, I listened to it for the first time ever on June 22 last year? Who knows? But I like it, enough even to say that not only will this likely be the only track from their debut I'll be returning to, but one I'll be returning to with some frequency.
(from the 2008 album The Airing of Grievances)

'Til next time, folks. Maybe I'll actually remember what day of the week it is.

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