Tuesday, October 20, 2009

82. “Johnny Appleseed” by Joe Strummer (2001)

When this came out, I didn’t realize that The Only Guy That Matters had not released anything that matters in almost 20 years. Looking back on it, and after having seen “The Future is Unwritten” (a great documentary about Strummer), it makes this song into a bit of a celebration of a comeback for a guy that spent two decades being seriously affected by the demise of The Clash. This song is a huge winner, one that will get your ass shaking and put you in a good mood immediately. It reminds you that few people can do it like Senor Strummer.

Hear it here.

83. “Red Vines” by Aimee Mann (2000)

On The Good Life’s break-up song, “Album of The Year”, Tim Kasher sings about this album as if it’s a classic: “We made love in the afternoon to “Chelsea Girls’ and ‘Bachelor Number 2’”.

I loved “Bachelor Number 2” from the first time I heard it. It’s perfect and cohesive and filled with great songs. And when comparing it to Nico’s classic LP “Chesea Girls”, it actually does stand up. Like Wilco’s “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”, picking a song from this record doesn’t necessarily do the artist justice. “Bachelor Number 2” is best when listened to as a whole, but some of the tracks do stand out on their own and “Red Vines” is probably the best example of Mann’s ability to craft a thoughtful and melancholy pop song.

Her band has always been fantastic and rocking (see “Long Shot” on her “Live at St Ann’s Warehouse” album), but on “Bachelor Number 2” the whole production seems to fit Mann’s melancholy mood and the layered production helps bring out her literate lyrics, rather than drowning them away. Mann owns all of the songs on this album and they very well could have been a part of a very strong singer-songwriter record. But if that had happened, we’d have likely lost the things that make this such a great record -- the band’s layered presentation brings the songs to a different place, mixing perfectly with Mann’s voice to create a great record that everyone should own.

Hear it here.

Built To Spill – 10/14/09 – Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

The first time I heard Built To Spill was at a bachelor party. My head was twisted – bruised mind darting in a million different directions -- and “The Plan” came on and seemed to pick me up and wrap me around a telephone pole. From up above, I saw dudes eating massive amounts of Maryland crabs and chugging brew, but the reality is that it was all just a visual. At that moment, Doug Marsh’s spiraling guitar was the only thing I could contemplate.

Not long after that I basically bought every BTS record that had been released. I loved them all but I was especially psyched with “There’s Nothing Wrong With Love”, which had a handful of songs that remain in my music rotation to this day – “Big Dipper”, “Dystopian Dream Girl”, “In The Morning” and, of course, “Car”. On Wednesday night, they played all of them except “Big Dipper”.

The theme of these four NYC shows – varying set lists with no repeats – seems to be at odds with the fact that each night appears to be a greatest hits showcase. I’d bet that most everyone has walked out of these NYC shows saying, “Wow, I can’t believe they played [insert awesome song here}!” Of course, what this made me realize is that not only does BTS have a million good songs, but they have a ton of legitimately GREAT songs. And perhaps even more importantly, they really don’t have any bad songs.

The last time I’d seen these guys was 2001 and I decided to go back in 2009 for the simple fact stated above – you will never get anything worse than a good BTS show. They just have too many good songs and on top of that, Marsh and Co completely thrive in the live setting – jamming out songs and twisting and bending them in the same way they did on “The Plan”. Aside from the solos, Marsh is constantly revered as a Neil Young 2.0 because the songs themselves – the vocals, lyrics, delivery – are all Young-esque. In other words, even without Marsh’s guitar god heroics, these shows would still be incredibly enjoyable because the tunes stand on their own. When you take them out to left field, as Marsh did on “Carry the Zero”, “Wherever You Go” and “Goin’ Against Your Mind”, it adds up to some real rock n roll goodness. Add to that the tremendous euphoria of “Car”, the chilled out groove of “Strange” and some nice songs from the fantastic new LP, and you’ve got yourself a damn good show.

You can download or listen to the whole show here.


Three Years Ago Today
In The Morning
Life's A Dream
Distopian Dream Girl
Wherever You Go
Nowhere Lullaby
In Your Mind
Planting Seeds
Carry The Zero


Randy Described Eternity
Goin' Against Your Mind