by Joel Caris
I'm going to take the easy way out with this week's column and used the tried and true trick of queueing up the "Five Stars" playlist on my iPod, putting it on random, and seeing what happens. I'll give the first ten songs that come on and do a write up on each one. The only stipulation is that I'll skip any that I wrote about the last time I did this.
"Jet Black New Year" by Thursday - How fucking dark is this song? I love it. It was a new song put onto an EP between the brilliant album Full Collapse and the good-but-not-as-brilliant album War All the Time. I thought the song spoke of a good direction for the band heading into the follow up album to one of my all time favorite discs, but I really don't think War All the Time came close to living up to the brilliance of this song. It's filled with good, dark imagery, has lots of compelling screaming, and is melodramatic as all hell. That makes for good times.
"Let Go" by Frou Frou - Okay, this one is vaguely embarrassing. Not really, though. Basically, I don't think this is a song I would normally like if not for the fact that it was the song used in the trailer for Garden State. And I love Garden State. I have a deep, strange, probably unhealthy love for Garden State. And Natalie Portman. And Natalie Portman's character. Not Zach Braff, though. I mean, I have a gee-that-guy's-funny-and-a-good-writer-and-actor love for him, but not so much a God-I-want-to-violate-him-but-in-a-consensual-way love. You know what I mean?
I think what this boils down to is that I love Garden State and this song reminds me of the movie, so I have love for the song. And, really, it's not that bad a song. But what little other stuff I've heard from the band has struck me as relatively uninteresting.
"Cemetery Drive" by My Chemical Romance - I've said it before and I'll say it again: Fuck you if you think you can give me shit about loving My Chemical Romance. I know they're all over the top and dress silly and wear lots of makeup, but you can say that about most any entertainer. And at least these guys are actually entertaining. They make great music, they rock, and they're slick as shit, but in a good way. Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge is utter brilliance and the follow up album wasn't half bad either. If you can't get beyond the look of them or the adoration they get from 12 year olds . . . well, your loss.
This, by the way, was one of the best songs off a ridiculously fantastic album that was filled with pretty much nothing but great songs.
"New Drink For the Old Drunk" by Crooked Fingers - I don't know if there's any legitimacy to this thought, but I always feel like this is the song I would hear if I was kicked back in a nice little Irish pub and there was a great, kick ass band on stage. That's what this song feels like to me, and that's a damn good feeling. Eric Bachmann, the lead singer, is one of my favorite artists going right now. I'm going to go ahead and call him a genius. I've seen him in concert twice and he's blown me away both times--they've been two of my best live music experiences. If Crooked Fingers or Eric Bachmann comes to town, go see the show. Seriously. Don't even bother downloading some songs first to see if you like him. Just go. You'll be happy.
This song also appeals to the inner alcoholic in me.
"Not Home Anymore" by Whiskeytown - Whiskeytown is Ryan Adams' first band. At least, I think it's his first. It's a little hard to keep up when a guy has about fifty different bands and releases ten albums a year. But I'm pretty sure this is his first and while I prefer his solo stuff and his stuff with The Cardinals more than this, there are still some damn decent songs in the Whiskeytown catalog. This is one of them. I'm not really sure why I find this compelling, but I do. Decent lyrics, I suppose, a nice beat. I really couldn't say. It's not as country as some of the other Whiskeytown songs, which is generally good. The band can get a little too country for me at times.
Ryan Adams is great, by the way, and you should listen to him. Also, he wrote, recorded and released two albums in the time it took me to write this blurb. Prolific little fuck, isn't he?
"Blowin' in the Wind" by Bob Dylan - Bob! Shit yes, this is a great song. I don't even really know what I need to write about this. I think most everyone knows the song and probably has an opinion one way or another. I only discovered Dylan last year and I'm quite glad I finally did. It's not that I didn't know of him or had never heard any of his music, but I didn't own any of his albums or really listen to him until last year. Thanks goes to Jess for finally getting me on the bandwagon.
"Helena" by My Chemical Romance - Have I mentioned these guys are great and you'd be a damn fool to dismiss them because of their theatrics and 12 year old fan base? Okay, good. This is another great song off an album that's full of ridiculously great songs. I don't know how they managed to put together Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. It has no right being so good from start to finish. It's one of those albums I've listened to hundreds of times and could listen to hundreds of times more without ever growing bored with it. That's rare, and that's an album to be treasured.
"Two Little Girls" by Ani DiFranco - Don't say a word. I know you all are dying to give me shit about this, but . . . well, okay, go ahead. It's not like you give a damn if I give you permission anyway. What can I say though, I dig Ani DiFranco and I'm not embarrassed by it. I think she's a damn good artist, I'm into her singing style, she's a magnificent lyricist. It's good stuff. This particular song is a favorite off of a great album and it includes the excellent line, "Here comes little naked me, padding up to the bathroom. To find little naked you, slumped on the bathroom floor."
DiFranco's last few albums haven't been nearly as compelling to me as her earlier stuff. That's not to say they're not good, though. Just not as good.
That's all I have for Ani. Go ahead and use that comment form below to start talking shit.
"Mexico" by Incubus - A lot of people started hating Incubus right around the time Morning View came out, though I think just as many people started loving them. I don't fall into either category. I loved their previous album, Make Yourself, which was pretty much their breakthrough. I also loved Morning View. It was after that I thought they started to fall apart. But I also didn't much care for S.C.I.E.N.C.E., though I didn't think it was horrible. So I fall into some weird middle ground on which I'm not sure many other Incubus fans reside.
Anyway, "Mexico" is my favorite song off Morning View. It's just one of those quiet, melancholy songs that I really get into. I've listened to this one hundreds of times and it still totally grabs my attention whenever I hear it. That's the mark of a great song.
"Willing to Fight" by Ani DiFranco - Jesus Christ, it wasn't bad enough that one of her songs had to come on, but two? This is ridiculous. But hey, not embarrassed, right? This is another great song from her. And this, actually, is the live version off her double disc live album, Living in Clip. I remember buying this album, actually. For some reason, I just got a bug up my ass late at night about owning it. I ran to Fred Meyer, found they had it in stock, and bought it outright. I don't even remember why I needed it so badly at that moment, but I did.
Luckily, it's an amazing live album. The woman certainly knows how to put on one hell of a concert and, out of all her live albums, this one may be the best capture of actually seeing her live in concert. Of course, I have no way of knowing that for sure since I've never actually seen her live. But I imagine it's true.
And that's it. Ten random songs. Feel free to give thoughts, opinions, protestations, ridicule, or your own random ten list.