Tuesday, September 27, 2005

songs and singles I've been digging PART 1

Death Cab for Cutie - Soul Meets Body

This has been one of my favorites for a while, it's a cool mid-tempo song with a simple but catchy guitar hook. The record this is from, Plans, is a decent one, although I was disappointed that there weren't too many songs that were as good, or better, than this one. The best tracks on Plans are mostly the acoustic and ballad-oriented ones, which is fine, but I was hoping for some more upbeat and fast paced offerings. I'm definitely withholding further judgement on this band until I hear their earlier work, which I understand is quite good (although apparently Ben Gibbard's already higher registered-voice has deepened, which is a bad sign since high-pitched and whiny vocals is one of my main reservations with the whole "emo" universe) . Either way, this is an outstanding track.

download "Soul Meets Body" here
stream of "Soul Meets Body" here

so brown eyes
I hold you near
cause you’re the only song I want to hear
a melody softly soaring
through my atmosphere

Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To?

This is another catchy song; it has a cool frivolity to it, and it rocks. Franz Ferdinand's self-titled debut was extremely solid, and hopefully their next record will keep up such high quality. "Do You Want To?" sounds heavily influenced by Devo, David Bowie, and the Talking Heads. I'm not much of a fan of Devo, but the Talking Heads, on the other hand, I enjoy quite heartily. I love their whole attitude/ demeanor/ approach, which is goofy, aloof, and artsy; they even seem to exude a quasi-homosexual aura. Watching these guy play live, watching their videos, and listening to their lyrics, I constantly find myself saying "These guys are so gay!" But that doesn't matter - I wouldn't care anyway, they seem to have fun with the idea, and they churn out some damn fine tunes. I'm looking forward to their upcoming CD with guarded optimism, but if this song is any indication, Franz Ferdinand could take a place as one of rock's best new bands who made a stellar debut record within the past two or three years (the Killers would probably have to be the leader of this group).

check out

the awesome video for "Do You Want To?" (scroll down)
the actual song here

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals - Cherry Lane

This is just a sick, sick song. Ryan Adams, one of my favorite artists, is set to release his second record in less than 4 months, Jacksonville City Nights, with a third CD of material recorded for inclusion in Cameron Crowe's upcoming movie, Elizabethtown. This tune, though, is off his double CD masterpiece Cold Roses. One of his best songs, of which he has many, "Cherry Lane" starts as a country-ish, bluesy mid/fast-tempo rocker that slows down and then builds back up, culminating in an epic and melodic outtro. This is off the first disc from Roses, and it's a great start for anyone not familiar with Ryan Adams.

You can listen to a stream of Cold Roses
I love Ryan Adams. I gotta admit, I celebrate the guy's entire catalogue.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Ain't No Easy Way

This is a stomping blues/rockabilly monster. Their new album, Howl, is a completely new and drastic departure from their previous two albums, which, while still blues-based, were electric rockers in the spirit of Nirvana, the Jesus and Mary Chain, and louder Oasis. On Howl, basically every track features acoustic guitar and a simple rhythm section. Given the talent of their drummer, this is a little disappointing, but it's still an interesting and worthwhile detour for the band. B.R.M.C. are one of the victims of rock's current state and the complicated record industry, but hopefully we'll see continued output from these guys.

Listen to "Ain't No Easy Way" here
download an MP3 here

Coldplay - The Hardest Part

Alright, I admit it, I like Coldplay. Aside from the stellar one-liner from The 40-Year-Old Virgin making fun of them, and despite the multitude of people who hate them, Coldplay is a very good band. "The Hardest Part" is their best song to date, and a highlight from X+Y, which is a superb record. What makes it even better for me is that it sounds exactly like classic piano-based R.E.M., and Chris Martin has specifically mentioned that
the song is an ode to R.E.M. and Michael Stipe, who have influenced Coldplay and Martin. There are probably lots of people who dislike both bands, I'll take the low road by saying they can eat my ass - fuck them, they wouldn't know great music if it jizzed on their face.

"The Hardest Part" here

the Rolling Stones - Rough Justice

It's great to know that the fathers of rock one one level, and the grandfathers of rock on another, can still kick out the jams at 60 years old. One of the greatest bands to ever pick up instruments (#2 on my best rock bands list), A Bigger Bang is a return to their raw and bluesy MO. This is the first track, and it's a naughty and exhilirating way to get things started. Everyone sounds 40 years younger than their age here, with Charlie Watts ignoring his corpse-like state and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger lighting the fuse. Good to hear two part guitar interplay in most of the songs. This is one of the better loud tracks on the record, along with "Look What the Cat Dragged In", "She Saw Me Coming", and "Infamy".

listen to
"Rough Justice" here

Nine Inch Nails - Only

Continuing the return to form theme, it's good to have Trent Reznor back in the land of the relevant. "Only" sounds a lot like classic NIN from the Pretty Hate Machine and Downward Spiral years, featuring Reznor's trademark angst and anger, along with the cool riff that dominates the song. Awesome f-bombs never hurt good tunes, either.

Audioslave - Doesn't Remind Me

This track also harkens back to classic early 90's-era rock. Tom Morello, despite his immense talent, still manages to frustrate guitar aficionados with his simple guitar solos, overutilizing what he describes as making barnyard animal noises. Nevertheless, the solo here is incendiary (to use a line from Almost Famous), and it's one of the better solos you'll hear from a mainstream radio song these days.

video stream

Nickel Creek - When In Rome

I like bluegrass a lot, and I especially took to it after first seeing O Brother, Where Art Thou? and enjoying its soundtrack a few years ago. Nickel Creek is a great modern bluegrass-fusion band, if you will, and "When In Rome" is the first track off their excellent new album Why Should the Fire Die?. They've been evolving since their first release a few years ago, and besides being talented musicians, Nickel Creek know how to write songs not only within the bluegrass genre but also combining the music they were raised to enjoy with the best of other facets of rock, 'alt-country', and folk. This track fits in well with two other favorites of mine, "The Fox" and "Smoothie Song". I highly recommend it for those who enjoy their pickin' and fiddlin', in addition to anyone who appreciates good music.

Listen to an NPR stream of a live peformance, including "When In Rome", here

the Shout Out Louds - The Comeback

An infectious little track that has an early Weezer feel to it, but sonically owes more to new wave bands like Television and various-era Flaming Lips (their lead singer sounds a bit like the Lips' Wayne Coyne and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus). "The Comeback" reminds me a little of Matt Sharp's sideproject the Rentals, the song "Friends of P" in particular. If you like the Strokes and other 'indie rock', you'll dig this. There's been a surprising number of acts coming out of Sweden recently, including the Hives, the Caesars, the Perishers, and these guys, among others.

Listen to
"The Comeback" here (scroll down, then click on "Free" under where it says "choose download type")

more to come...

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