MoSS? Presents…The Top Albums of 2012, #5-1

MoSS Albums 2012

Todd’s 5-1

(click play button below to sample these 5 albums)

#5. Frankie Rose, Interstellar

#4. Seapony, Falling

#3. Japandroids, Celebration Rock

#2. Wild Nothing, Nocturne

#1. Eternal Summers, Correct Behavior

Chris’ 5-1

(click play button below to sample these 5 albums)

#5. The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter

#4. A Place to Bury Strangers, Worship

#3. Best Coast, The Only Place

#2. Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror

#1. The xx, Coexist

Previous installments:

Best Songs of 2012

#20-11

#10-6

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MoSS? Presents…The Top Albums of 2012, #10-6

MoSS Albums 2012

Chris’ 10-6

(click play button below to sample these 5 albums)

#10. Diiv, Oshin

#9. Tame Impala, Lonerism

#8. Beach House, Bloom

#7. Crystal Castles, (III)

#6. Sigur Ros, Valtari

Todd’s 10-6

(click play button below to sample these 5 albums)

#10. Diiv, Oshin

#9. Tennis, Young and Old

#8. The Sea and Cake, Runner

#7. PAWS, Cokefloat!

#6. Best Coast, The Only Place

Previous installments:

Best Songs of 2012

#20-11

MoSS? Presents…The Top Albums of 2012, #20-11

MoSS Albums 2012

Todd’s 20-11

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

#20. Heems, Nehru Jackets/ Wild Water Kingdom

#19. Sleigh Bells, Reign of Terror

#18. The Men, Open Your Heart

#17. La Sera, Sees The Light

#16. Nude Beach, II

#15. Echo Lake, Wild Peace

#14. Hospitality, Hospitality

#13. Michael Kiwanuka, Home Again

#12. Beach House, Bloom

#11. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange

Chris’ 20-11

(click play button below to sample these 10 albums)

#20. Black Moth Super Rainbow, Cobra Juicy

#19. Lone, Galaxy Garden

#18. School of Seven Bells, Ghostory

#17. The Men, Open Your Heart

#16. Colleen Green, Milo Goes to Compton

#15. Japandroids, Celebration Rock

#14. Wild Nothing, Nocturne

#13. El Perro del Mar, Pale Fire

#12. Frankie Rose, Interstellar

#11. Burial, Kindred

Previous installments:

Best Songs of 2012

MoSS? Best of 2012 Mixtape

MoSS Songs 2012

Side A: Todd’s Favorite Songs of 2012

1. Tanlines, “Brothers”

2. Japandroids, “The House That Heaven Built”

3. Grimes, “Oblivion”

4. Best Coast, “My Life”

5. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, “Baby”

6. Field Mouse, “Glass”

7. Frank Ocean, “Pyramids”

8. Wild Nothing, “Shadow”

9. Memoryhouse, “The Kids Were Wrong”

10. Tegan and Sara, “Closer”

Side B : Chris’ Favorite Songs of 2012

Burial, “Kindred”

Crystal Castles, “Plague”

Earl Sweatshirt, “Chum”

First Aid Kit, “Emmylou”

Japandroids, “The House That Heaven Built”

Ke$ha, “Don’t Think Twice (It’s All Right)”

Rhye, “The Fall”

Sleigh Bells, “Comeback Kid”

Tennis, “Origins”

The xx, “Swept Away”

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #1

Yep, we’ve made a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

(Next week, we’ll unveil our favorite music from 2012.)

Here we go, the #1 picks…

Chris’ #1: The Cure, Disintegration

(click play button below to sample this album)

disintegration coverNot sure I can sum up my thoughts on Disintegration much better than the little dude toward the end of this video right here.

And I’m guessing most people saw this pick coming a mile away. (Those of you who asked me in person if it would be Disintegration, I always answered you honestly with a “yes,” and you all pretty much shrugged.)

But despite the lack of drama, I’m going to write about the album, and see if I can’t surprise myself with my reflections.

In 1989, I was wrapping up the late stages of my heavy metal phase, one that had morphed from stuff like Poison and Motley Crue to Def Leppard and Whitesnake to Slayer and Stryper (odd pair, I know) to Metallica and, um, Metallica. But I was starting to collect albums that were “college rock” or “alternative”: I had R.E.M.’s Green and a live Descendents album and an Echo and the Bunnymen album (Heaven Up Here, I believe it was) and U2’s The Joshua Tree and Depeche Mode’s Music for the Masses and the Cure’s Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. I had grown to love the various tunes on that Cure album, but not enough to send me exploring the back catalog.

But the new stuff in 1989, that’s what sent me down the path to Cure fanaticism.

When Disintegration first came out in late spring of 1989, I wasn’t in line to buy it or anything. It wasn’t until that summer that I realized that the band had a new album, in fact. I remember my family had gone on some big camping trip in the mountains, cut off from the modern world. After a few days of rain and rugged living in the Rockies, we returned to society, and one of the first things I did was pick up the most recent issue of Rolling Stone. I flipped to the back of the magazine to look at the charts, and saw Disintegration by the Cure at a rather lofty position, adjacent to the Cult’s Sonic Temple, as it happens. (The random shit I remember is equal parts amazing and dumbfounding, and almost always useless.) But I simply made a mental note that the Cure had a new album, and perhaps I could hit up my cousin Josh for a copy of it next time I saw him.

HOWEVER, the first time I heard “Lovesong” on Rock 108 (a station not typically known for playing bands like the Cure), I was absolutely floored.

I loved the sharp keyboard sound. I loved the active bass line bouncing around underneath the keys. And Robert Smith was singing very simple lines that, in his earnest voice, carried so much weight, so much sincerity. (Appropriate, seeing as he wrote the song for his wife, Mary, as a wedding present.) It felt like the first time I heard someone saying “I love you” and speaking on my behalf, you know? It seemed like the perfect song…and it was damn catchy too, riding the U.S. singles chart up to #2! I would call the radio station during request hours and chat the DJs ear off about how awesome “Lovesong” was. And I realized that I absolutely had to go buy this album.

The funny thing is, next time I was in the music section of a retail store, I didn’t buy it.

Why not?

Because of this cool looking chick in the WalMart tape section.

She looked pretty “goth,” at least as far as Newton, Iowa, goes. She was browsing the cassettes when I rolled up. After a couple of minutes of surveying the situation, I started thumbing through the few Cure tapes on hand. The girl took this as an invitation to strike up a conversation…

Goth Girl: You like the Cure?

Chris: Yeah.

Goth Girl: Yeah, me too.

OK, common ground. Where do I go from here? We both kind of stared at our feet for a while, not saying anything. Before I could think of anything clever, Goth Girl spoke up again.

Goth Girl: What do you think of the new one? You have it, right?

Fuck. Play it cool…

Chris: Oh yeah, I got it. (LIAR!)

Goth Girl: Yeah, me too. It’s not my favorite of theirs, but “Fascination Street” is pretty cool.

Chris: Um, yeah, that’s a good one.

The conversation never got any deeper than that. But now I had painted myself in a corner. I couldn’t buy the tape now…I already owned it. And I didn’t think quickly enough to come up with some excuse like “I think I am going to buy it for my friend for his birthday” or something like that; I was too focused on not blushing and acting all cool. It was nice to talk to this cute stranger, but goddamn it, leave already so I can buy this tape!

But, of course, my parents showed up to tell me they and my grandmother were done shopping and it was time to go. So not only did I walk away empty-handed on the Disintegration front, my mom managed to say (before we were out of earshot of Goth Girl) “Who was that girl? Were you talking to her? Do you guys like the same music?” And the non-blushing effort was all for naught.

I eventually went to a retail store without my parents and got the tape, and I did not encounter any goth chicks that day, so no posturing. It was D-Day, as in Disintegration Day. A day that lives in infamy for me. (I couldn’t tell you the exact date, though.)

Once the tape had been opened (trying to remember if it had one of those awkward plastic covers on it or not) and inserted into the stereo, I was introduced to the song that to this day remains my favorite Cure song, “Plainsong.” It’s a song that sets the tone for the entire album, with icy grandeur, extended instrumental opening, and winning lyrics. “Sometimes you make me feel like I’m living at the edge of the world / like I’m living at the edge of the world / ‘it’s just the way I smile’ you said,” the final lyrics of the song, melt me every time. And the song absolutely made the coronation scene in Marie Antoinette one of the best shots in the whole movie.

(“Sometimes,” a song from my #2 album of all time, Loveless, had a similar effect in another one of Sofia Coppola’s films, Lost in Translation. Cab ride home from the karaoke night, for those of you who don’t recall.)

The album showcased varying strengths of the Cure’s lineup at its strongest. Bassist Simon Gallup owns “Fascination Street” with the driving bass line he lays down; it’s the absolute backbone of the song, and the first thing I taught myself how to play on the bass. Drummer Boris Williams is no slouch on that song, either, and he shows an interesting touch on “Closedown” and more propulsive drive on “Disintegration.” Porl Thompson guitar work isn’t as flashy as it was on Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me but he works his talents within the soundscape set forth by Smith. His work on “Lovesong” often goes overlooked, and he shines on “Pictures of You,” another top achievement in the Cure’s entire songbook. I think I might be as fond of the video as I am the song, because at the end, it reveals the band to be a bunch of regular dudes having a blast on the set.

And Roger O’Donnell’s keyboard work is second to none. The atmosphere he creates on “Plainsong,” “Homesick,” and the majestic “The Same Deep Water As You” has that same overwhelming, emotional punch that shoegazers deliver with their tremulous guitars. He took the one-fingered keyboarding repertoire of Lol Tolhurst and upped the game a hundredfold. Keyboards weren’t always part of the Cure’s sound, but Roger O’Donnell made it so the band’s sound felt bare without them (even if O’Donnell found himself expendable a time or two over the years).

The songs still resonate with me to this day, after thousands of listens. Perhaps it’s because this album came out at the right time, coinciding with my 15-year-old self’s complete emotional dysfunctionality, and was able to get its hooks in me permanently. Also consider that I grew up in a small town that didn’t have MTV, before the Internet age, and I wasn’t overexposed to music (and certainly not the Cure), so there might have been a quality to this album that seemed a bit exotic. Some of it might have had to do with starting high school, and hanging out with some of the older kids and cool foreign exchange students (Nacho! Jacqueline! Hiro! Raymond!), demographics that tended to like the Cure and other music along those lines.

Or maybe it’s as simple as this: Disintegration spends 71 minutes projecting a singular message of longing and hope over 12 songs that are tightly constructed and magically performed. Robert’s voice is at its peak: strong but not overdone, and singing words that paint beautiful pictures without sounding cliché. The band had its best-ever guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and drummer all in place. The perfect storm.

In the liner notes, there is a line toward the end that says, “THIS MUSIC HAS BEEN MIXED TO BE PLAYED LOUD SO TURN IT UP.” Seems almost silly coming from a band like the Cure, but never has better advice been given. The best music should always be played loud.

Todd’s #1: Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream

(click play button below to sample this album)

siamese dream coverSiamese Dream, the album that started a nearly 3 year obsession with all things Smashing Pumpkins. As you will recall from previous posts, I loved The Pumpkins previous release Gish and was all pumped up for a new record. Little did I know the effect it would have on me and my musical tastes. Actually, obsession isn’t quite the correct word, there needs to be something stronger.  I’ve never listened to an album more or over a longer period of time than Siamese Dream. My listening habits became a bit compulsive and at times I was like one of those freaky Beatles fans that thought their records were made specifically for them. The music on Siamese Dream effected me like no other music I’d heard before so in many ways it really did feel like it was made for me.

Within a few months of purchasing Siamese Dream everything about me was Smashing Pumpkins. My wardrobe was a rotation of five Smashing Pumpkins t-shirts. The Devils one, The Angels one, The heart one, The Siamese Dream album cover one, and some weird purple one with cartoon aliens on it. My reading material consisted of guitar magazines with SP leader Billy Corgan on the cover. I spent most of my extra income on every CD single with a B-side that I could find. The guys at Co-Op Tape and Records could probably set their clocks by my frequent visits. Todd’s here… must be Friday.

Record store Dude: “You get paid today Todd?”

Me: “Yep”

Record store Dude: “Well let me show you what we have in the import section this week. We have a nice Japanese import of the “Today” single.”

Today Single

The “Today” single and the Japanese import “Today” single.

Me: “I have that already.”

Record store Dude: “I know but the Japanese version has and EXTRA unreleased song on it.”

Me: “Sold.”

Record store Dude: “Don’t you want to know title of the song?”

Me: “Don’t care, have to have it.”

Record store Dude: “Don’t you want to know the price?”

Me: “I said sold. Give it to me now. Don’t make me hurt you.”

Then I would run to my car and put the CD in the player and bliss out. The closest comparison would be a heroin junkie getting a fresh injection. Once the glory of hearing the new song was over, I needed more though. It was a serious habit.

Remember that dude Roberto from my post about The Pixies Trompe le Monde? He hosted an alternative radio show I was into for awhile. Well, he also worked at one of the local record stores. Occasionally, I would go in there and chit chat about music with him. When there were no new Pumpkins oddities to buy, he could always get me to buy something else. He was very good at not letting me out of the store without buying something. In his defense, he never steered me wrong. He turned me on to The Sugarcubes, Medicine, The Jesus and Mary Chain and many others. He totally had my number…literally. More than once I came home and there would be a message on the machine from Roberto.

“Hey Todd, we just got in some new Smashing Pumpkins bootlegs. Thought you might be interested.”

I’d be out the door and driving to the store before the message was done playing. I ended up with quite the collection…

 Pumpkins Collection

Not as impressive as it used to be. This is what I still have left. I know I sold a bunch of my bootleg concert performances and I had a few more concert VHS tapes too. Notice that there is not an actual proper Smashing Pumpkins release in there. That’s just the rarities. One thing I could add to that collection is the concert audio from the smashing Pumpkins concert I went to in Spring ’94. They came to Palmer Auditorium in Davenport, Iowa. Chris was actually at that same concert, not surprising since he had a similar love affair with them. Anyway, a few months back I searched the internet to find the setlist from that concert and ran across a website that had archived audio from that show. You could download it for free! It actually contains the first live performance of “Bullet with Butterfly Wings”, a huge hit from their follow up album Mellon Collie. I didn’t remember that happening so it was a pretty cool discovery.

I really don’t have the words to properly describe the awesomeness of this record but I’ll try. The drum roll at the start of the opening track, “Cherub Rock”, gives you the feel of being at some boardwalk sideshow. You half expect a carnival barker to start yelling,

”Step right up folks! Get ready for the greatest thing you have or will ever hear!”

Then there’s the slow build until shit just fucking explodes. The guitars are thunderous and almost force your arms into the air guitar position “You will bow down to the awesome and air guitar or I will destroy you!”

I have no clue how Billy gets this guitar effect. Call it filthy, call it crunchy, call it fuzzed out, call it any adjective that applies. All I know is you can’t duplicate it in your living room with a shitty amp and distortion pedal. I’ve tried. It ends up sounding, as you might expect, like some dude that can sort of play guitar trying to sound like The Pumpkins with a shitty amp and distortion pedal. There are stories about marathon studio sessions where Billy overdubbed and layered dozens of guitar tracks over top of each other to get it to sound that way. So my pathetic attempts at playing at guitar god were laughable. Anyway, “Cherub Rock” is one satisfying lead track. It’s maybe the most similar to the songs on Gish so it is the perfect handoff from one album to the next.

The Pixies get a lot of credit for creating the loudQUIETloud music style of the early ‘90s. If they invented it, then the Pumpkins perfected it with Siamese Dream. They use the technique on many songs like “Today”, (which I can never listen to without thinking of that damn ice cream truck video), “Geek U.S.A.,” and “Silverfuck.” But I didn’t just obsess over those more in your face songs. There are a few more laid back tunes like “Spaceboy,” “Sweet Sweet,” and “Luna” that all spent time with the title “My Favorite Song From Siamese Dream.” Actually, every song on Siamese Dream at one point was my favorite song from Siamese Dream. I’m sure I annoyed my girlfriend, my friends and basically anyone that road in my car with my frequent declarations of love for a different song from the album. Unlike Chris I am not going to apologize. No I am going to say… you’re welcome.

“You’re welcome” to my former girlfriend, for every time I pulled up to your parents’ house blasting a different song from Siamese Dream as loud as my stereo would go.

“You’re welcome” to my best friend who rode to work with me, for getting to hear me sing the quiet part of “Silverfuck” every day for two weeks.

“You’re welcome” to Co-Op Tapes and Records, for the day I paid $35 for a bootleg concert VHS tape worth $2.

And most of all, “you’re welcome” to you dedicated MoSS? readers. For getting to read all of the moronic things that pop in my head and end up on your computer screen.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

#30-21

#20-16

#15-11

#10

#9

#8

#7

#6

#5

#4

#3

#2

MoSS? Monthly Mixtape: December 2012

Dec

Side A : Todd’s Picks

1. Heems, “Wild Water Kingdom”

2. Nude Beach, “Love can’t Wait”

3. PAWS, “Get Bent”

4. CHVRCHES, “The Mother We Share”

5. Memory Tapes, “Sheila”

Side B : Chris’ Picks

1. The Evens, “King of Kings”

2. Dragon Inn 3, “Rocket Launcher”

3. Black Forest Fire, “Live News Feed”

4. El Perro Del Mar, “Walk On By”

5. Steffaloo, “Can’t You See”

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #2

Yep, we’ve made a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

We’ve reached the really good stuff: our top 10s. We’ll roll these out one per day (Monday-Friday) over the next two weeks, reaching #1 on Friday, Dec. 14. The following week, we’ll unveil our favorite music from 2012.

Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #2: My Bloody Valentine, Loveless

(click play button below to sample this album)

loveless album coverI did the college radio DJ thing for the first time in 1997, during my last year at Iowa State. I had two three-hour shifts a week on KURE (Cure!), which was based in the basement of one of the buildings there (sad that I can’t remember exactly where…Friley Hall, maybe?). It was a lot of fun, even though we were forced to follow a CMJ-based playlist for about 50 percent of the air time. There were six songs per hour we had to play; we could fill the rest of the time with our own choices, as long as the songs didn’t contain “fuck” or “shit” in the lyrics and weren’t top 40 kind of stuff.

(Contrast this with my time at KRUI as a staff member at the University of Iowa, which was post-Janet Jackson-boob-flop/FCC crackdown on “indecency.” The top 40 rule applied at KRUI, but I was told not to play songs that had the word “damn,” never mind “shit” and “fuck.” Different times in college radio, I guess.)

So once I got my required plays out of the way (being 1997, that meant stuff like Tindersticks, Travis, Suede, Sarah McLachlan), I would dig into the older CDs, and often times I turned to Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. I would turn the in-studio speakers up to 11 and let the waves of guitar wash over me. One particular time, I decided to play three songs in a row: “Touched,” “To Here Knows When,” and “When You Sleep.” About halfway through the second song, the studio phone rang.

“Hey, I think you have the record player on the wrong speed.”

I informed the caller that I was using a compact disc player.

“Whatever. Listen, I’m calling from Mr. Goodcents. We would like to do you the favor of playing your station over our in-store speakers, but if you’re gonna play weird stuff like this, I don’t know that we can keep doing that for you.”

[silence on my end]

“So, like, play something normal, and we’ll keep you on the speakers.”

I realized what was at stake if I didn’t comply with the wishes of the most popular sandwich outlet in Ames aside from Jimmy John’s, Subway, Blimpie, Pita Pit, Pizza Pit, the gyro carts on Welch, convenience store delis, and a few others (probably). If I fuck this up, the station would see a ZERO PERCENT reduction in funding from Mr. Goodcents; worse, we would be facing audience casualties that might number in the tens.

So I did what any asshole college radio DJ would do: I said I’d play something slightly more mainstream, got on the air after the MBV trifecta ended, dedicated the next song to the good folks at Goodcents, and then played an eight-minute Future Sound of London song (which I believe was on the CMJ playlist…two birds with one repetitive techno stone).

I did so not to maintain the hipster image of the college radio DJ, but because I was genuinely pissed off and surprised that the greatness of MBV went unrecognized by this sandwich maker. And it really goes beyond ignoring the greatness; the quality of said music had been called into question, and the airing of the music sparked a likely boycott by the local eatery. I was left perplexed: Who doesn’t think Loveless is the best thing since sliced bread?

(To be fair, the dudes at Mr. Goodcents probably have an elevated opinion of sliced bread, thus a higher standard of excellence.)

my bloody valentine band photoThere’s so much for me to like in this band, and in this album in particular. First and foremost, the amazing sounds that ringleader Kevin Shields and the much beloved Bilinda Butcher coax from their guitars. Their guitars are everywhere: soaring, circling, bouncing off the walls, howling, smothering, surrounding you. It’s amazing to feel the weight of the guitar assault. And not volume for volume’s sake sort of attack, either: it’s the density that does the bludgeoning. I feel like I’m in a hot tub of awesome when I listen to this album.

(“How is this guy not getting paid millions of dollars to pen music critiques?” you might be asking in the wake of that last sentence.)

So yeah, guitars, guitars, guitars, with textures and volumes aplenty. Not the kind of guitar-music that prompts me to bust into air-guitar theatrics, though. Despite the waves of guitar, I’d sooner completely chill with this music on. How can that be? I chalk it up to another important element of MBV music: the vocals evident under the surface of six-string sonic assault. Sometimes sung by Bilinda, sometimes by Kevin, always soothing. It almost has a hypnotic effect. The words are somewhat decipherable, which on its face sounds like a criticism more than a compliment, but they serve almost more like an instrument than a narrative. Not quite to the level of Sigur Ros, but similar. Kevin’s laid-back style fits well underneath the music, and Bilinda’s tone (so dreamy, so sensual) is what matters, not the words she’s saying.

Plus, when the words are a mystery, we can all feel a little less self-conscious when we do that “sing-along-using-sounds-that-sorta-resemble-real-words” thing that we all do with music from time to time.

Even the drumming, which is muted even more so than the vocals, sounds really good on here. Nothing fancy, but I think because it is used as more of a complement to the rest of the music, it magnifies the fills, creating a greater impact.

Even though I’m quite certain this album factored poorly in one of my dating escapades at Iowa State (the girl saw the CD in my car and, aghast, blurted out, “My Bloody Valentine? Should I be worried?”), the good far outweighs the bad. As shoegaze enjoys another revival in popularity, it is timely for me to rejoice Loveless as one of the most important (and incredible) albums ever made. Click the play button on my sampler atop this write-up, sit back, close your eyes, and let (three songs from) Loveless envelop you.

Or turn it off and go make a sandwich.

Todd’s #2: Pixies, Doolittle

(click play button below to sample this album)

pixies_doolittleIf you read our #6 album post about Nirvana’s Nevermind, then you that saw Chris and I were asked questions by the International Blogging Syndicate during an interview about out lists. One of the questions asked was…Is it easier to write about an album you love or an album you hate? Chris had a great response:

The ones you hate. The ones you love, you want to respect the shit out of them, so it’s harder to get the words just right, to get them to convey your true admiration.

Well, that’s how I feel about The Pixies, Doolittle. I have nothing to write about this album’s greatness that hasn’t already been written by way better scribes than me. Nor do I have any particularly interesting anecdotes about this record to discuss. I also already shared details of my Pixies addiction in my “Surviving the New Music Wasteland” trilogy of posts.

So I guess I am taking the easy way out and choosing to do-little (rimshot) for my Doolittle post. I am going to run through the songs of Doolittle and tell you the very specific reasons why I like them. Could be a drum beat. Could be a lyric or lack thereof. The best parts of songs can sometimes be the subtleties. So here we go.

“Debaser”- Kim Deal’s backing vocals make this one for me. Also, the line at the beginning “slicing up eyeballs.” Wonderfully graphic.

“Tame”- Has to be Black Francis’ screaming TAME!!!! at the end of the song. He had to have needed a lozenge after that.

“Wave of Mutilation”- Love the rumbling drums before the chorus.

“I Bleed”- Black Francis’ imperfect echoing of Kims Deal’s vocals and the part where he sings the line “Nobody Knows” in a comically deeper voice.

“Here Comes Your Man” – Basically, everything about this song is great, but to pick one specific part…The little guitar ditty between verses.

“Dead”– The ‘60s pop guitar solo in the middle of the song.

“Monkey Gone to Heaven”- If man was 5 and the Devil is 6…then God is 7!!!!

“Mr. Grieves”- They say the album title Doolittle in it.

“Crackity Jones”- “The last set of ”Crack crack crackity jones” and the little chirping noise he makes in between them.

“La la Love You”- The pleas for us listeners to ‘Shake Your Butt!” at the beginning.

“No. 13 Baby”- The two minute outro is fucking great.

“There Goes My Gun”- I love that the first verse is just Black Francis yelling Yoo Hoo! Three times. Guess he decided to Doolittle on the verse.

“Hey”- Another song that I adore everything about…I guess I’ll pick the guitars during the first verse. Very jangly for a verse about whores in your bed.

“Silver”- This is the one song I’ve struggled over the years to like much. Kim Deal sings on it so I’ll go with that.

“Gouge Away”- I love that it is the perfect segue song to the next Pixies album Bossanova. Very similar style to many songs on that release.

So there you have it. My very specific reasons for liking every song on Doolittle. Give it a listen sometime if you already haven’t (How that could even be possible is beyond me) and think of your own reasons.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

#30-21

#20-16

#15-11

#10

#9

#8

#7

#6

#5

#4

#3

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #3

 

Yep, we’ve made a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

We’ve reached the really good stuff: our top 10s. We’ll roll these out one per day (Monday-Friday) over the next two weeks, reaching #1 on Friday, Dec. 14. The following week, we’ll unveil our favorite music from 2012.

Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #3: The Beatles, Revolver

(click play button below to sample this album)

revolver coverMusic class at St. Patrick’s Grade School was a bit of a mixed bag. Often times we had to sing hymns from our Glory & Praise song books to prepare for Friday morning Mass, stuff like “Be Not Afraid” (ironic when you consider our education was a combination of fear and Catholic guilt mixed in with some phonics and math) and “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” Other times we sang stuff like “Joy to the World” (the one about the bullfrog, not the one about “the lord is come”) and “Home on the Range” and “This Land Is Your Land.”

Once a month, we had “Listening Day,” where we were allowed to bring records and cassettes to school and listen to our favorite songs at the moment. My music teacher once said if she had a nickel for every time she had to hear Duran Duran, she’d be a rich woman. (This was around the time of “The Reflex” and “Wild Boys,” so I felt obligated to share.) I don’t think I ever missed a month, also bringing in the Purple Rain singles and my Bryan Adams Reckless tape and Hall & Oates’ “Out of Touch” and even that Chaka Khan song (you know, the one where her name is the primary lyric: “Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Chaka Khan! Chaka Khan! Chaka Khan!”). It was my favorite day of the month.

And it was through Catholic grade school music class that I discovered the Beatles’ Revolver. One of the songs in our secular songbook was “Yellow Submarine,” which everyone loved singing, although at some point our class thought it was funny/whatever to change the lyrics to “Green Submarine,” possibly because it rhymed? I dunno. Anyway, we would sing that song a lot, often by request from members of the class. As such, I eventually noticed the songwriter credit was listed as “Lennon/McCartney.” Those names seemed to ring a bell, so I remember asking my dad who Lennon and McCartney were.

After telling me that they were two of the Beatles, he asked why I was asking. I told him that our class was singing “Yellow Submarine.” His response: “That song is on one of the Beatles records I have downstairs.” So off I went to rifle through the vinyl collection once again.

revolver's back coverI found Revolver, with its funny looking cover. I remember noticing little things, like John’s ear being shaded in (for whatever reason, that really struck me as odd). I flipped over the album cover and saw these four dudes, three in shades and the fourth in quirky regular glasses, looking quite happy with themselves. I also saw the track listing, which helpfully listed not only the composers (Lennon/McCartney most of the time, Harrison thrice) but also who sang lead vocals on each song. I saw that Ringo Starr was the singer on “Yellow Submarine”; it was his only vocal, so I figured it must be a very important song if they saved it for the guy named Ringo.

So yeah, I listened to “Yellow Submarine” a dozen times or so; they did an OK job with it, almost as good as the St. Pat’s kids. Then I figured I’d check out the rest of the album. Being 10 years old at the time, I must say that the album was a “grower” for me. I do remember thinking “Taxman” was kinda cool, and I liked “Good Day Sunshine.” The rest of it didn’t hold my attention, though, so it was back to “The Reflex” and the like.

But as I got older, I found myself digging the Revolver tunes more and more. “Eleanor Rigby” became one of my favorite songs of all time. “I’m Only Sleeping” had that nice dreamy vocal from John and “Love You To” was one of those mystical George songs that I found appealing with time, much like “Within You Without You” from Sgt. Pepper’s. (By the way, George’s mentor in this aspect of music, Ravi Shankar, just died at age 92.) We got one good “Paul song” (“Here, There, and Everywhere”) and one brassy “Paul song” (“Got to Get You Into My Life”) and the epitome of a “Paul song” (“For No One”).

And then those two John songs, the ones that closed each side of the record (remember, that is indeed how I experienced this album), “She Said She Said” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Holy shit, dude. “She Said” has that jarring guitar work that cuts through the haze, created both by the murky bass, somewhat muted drumming, and John’s vocals about “knowing what it was like to be dead” and “making me feel like I’ve never been born” and shit like that. Listening to it with headphones on, which I often did as a kid (which is why I can’t hear worth a shit, no doubt), was pretty trippy, with the drums isolated to my left ear and the guitar squall hitting my right ear.

And “Tomorrow Never Knows” ups the ante. John’s double-tracked vocal, ever so slightly out of unison, inviting you to “turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream” and imploring you to listen to the color of your dreams,” to this day I find myself awed by this song. The swirls of guitar, the non-stop cymbal sounds, the insistent bass-and-snare drum pattern that propels the song beyond its amorphous nature, the backward sound, the bass rumbling below, the manic piano notes striking every so often toward the end…while “A Day in the Life” is my favorite Beatles song of all time (favorite regardless of band, really), then this is a close second. (And what Mad Men did with this song last season was fucking bad-ass, and made me love Megan Draper all the more.)

This is the Beatles at their zenith. They were still existing as a band, their decision to stop touring before this album paid off big-time, they were introducing more elements to their music without losing their edge. When the worst song on the album is the one that we sang all the time in music class, you know you’ve got a classic on your hands.

I’ll always love the Cure the most, but the Beatles are the best band ever. This will remain true always.

Todd’s #3: Prince, Purple Rain

(click play button below to sample this album)

cover for Purple RainI just got back from taking my daughter to a live performance of the musical Annie (Well done Iowa City Community Theatre). If I learned one thing from that experience, it was that the overall performance of the actors in a show is not that important as long as the material and songs are top notch. That’s what you get with Purple Rain, pretty shitty acting performances in between some of the greatest music ever made.

While I don’t consider the Purple Rain album a typical movie soundtrack (Obviously, or it would not have been eligible for the list), I can’t listen to the album without also thinking of the movie and the sub-par acting performances. Like the “What’s the password” scene featuring Morris Day and Jerome from The Time.

Pretty bad but no one cared because the Time had two amazing song performances in the movie “Jungle Love” and “The Bird.”

apolloniaApollonia gave quite possibly the worst performance in the history of movies but who cares? She wore tight leather cat suits and lingerie throughout the entire movie. Also, much to the delight of this impressionable young boy’s eyes, she exposed her wonderful rack in the scene where she jumps in the lake to prove herself to Prince’s character “The Kid.”

“…That ain’t Lake Minnetonka.”

Looking back, that scene is probably solely responsible for my preference for brunettes. Blondes never had a chance after Apollonia unleashed the hounds. And, besides adding the sexy factor, Apollonia “Bettie Booped” her way through the songs, ”Sex Shooter” and the kick ass duet with Prince, “Take Me With You.”

Not all of the performances in the movie disappoint. Actually, all of the musical performances are top notch. I suppose that should be expected of musicians trying to be actors. When you are already a charismatic rock star, how hard could it be to play a charismatic rock star on stage in a movie?

My favorite song performance in the movie is “The Beautiful Ones.” Prince is memorizing and the Apollonia character actually sheds what may have been real tears. Acting!

“The Beautiful Ones” is one of those epic songs that slow builds. Prince starts off innocently declaring his love and asking the object of his affection to please choose him over another man.

Baby, baby, baby
Can’t U stay with me 2night?
Oh Baby, baby, baby
Don’t my kisses please U right?

Eventually, the tone changes to a frantic lust filled plea. This is the scene in which my wife will tell you, “That man is sex on a stick.” I find it hard to disagree with her. He certainly gets his point across. I would have liked to share a video clip of that performance but Prince is being a prick about people using his stuff on the internet now. The lyrics will have to do.

Baby, baby, baby
Listen

I may not know where I’m going baby
Look here

I may not know what I need
But one thing
One thing for certain baby

I know what I want
And it’s to please you baby
Please you baby
I’m begging down on my knees
I want you

I know I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but how can people think the dude is gay? I guess they are just looking at the clothes he wears.

Prince's Purple One

If they were paying attention they would see he surrounds himself with hot chicks and so many of his songs are sexual in nature. Like the song “Darling Nikki.” That had some of the most overtly hetero lyrics of all time.

I knew a girl named Nikki
I guess u could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine
She said how’d u like 2 waste some time
And I could not resist when I saw little Nikki grind

I was very young when this album was out and my older brother scored a dubbed* copy from a friend. When he played “Darling Nikki” I was pretty confused about the lyrics. My brother was more than happy to explain. I didn’t know what the word masturbation was and when it was revealed to me, I still didn’t get how she did it with a magazine like the lyrics said. How do you do that with a magazine?… How does she fit it in there? …Does she just roll it up?… Oh, she just looks at it?… Why?… Oh!…cooooool!

[*His dubbed tape of Purple Rain had a bad spot in it and when Prince was supposed to say the word, “funky”, it just cut out. Every time he played “Darling Nikki” when I was around, he would make a point to tell me, “he says funky there.” Since then, I don’t think I’ve heard that part without thinking “he says funky there.”]

Woke up the next morning
Nikki wasn’t there
I looked all over and all I found
Was a phone number on the stairs
It said thank u 4 a funky time
Call me up whenever u want 2 grind

The word “grind” confused me too. When my mother heard the song I remember she was especially shocked by the use of that word. It sounded like something painful to me but, based on her reaction I guessed it was probably amazing. Again, my brother explained it to me. She gets on top?…Why?…Oh…Then what?…And people like that?…Neato!

I was lucky to have an older brother who would share such knowledge. Most people needed a health class or a zoo keeper to get first class sex education like that.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

#30-21

#20-16

#15-11

#10

#9

#8

#7

#6

#5

#4

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MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #4

Yep, we’ve made a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

We’ve reached the really good stuff: our top 10s. We’ll roll these out one per day (Monday-Friday) over the next two weeks, reaching #1 on Friday, Dec. 14. The following week, we’ll unveil our favorite music from 2012.

Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #4: The xx, xx

(click play button below to sample this album)

xx coverI thought I’d list all the things I was doing when I was 20: playing video games in my dorm room, working a few hours a week in a Northern Iowa computer lab, killing time before I transferred to a school that offered a real journalism degree.

Let’s see, what else…I already mentioned video games…I was really good at those Sega Genesis hockey games. One of my friends, I’d play against him with my net empty and still beat him. Not as impressive as my friend Jim, who beat someone at Tecmo Super Bowl without running a single offensive play, but still…

What I wasn’t doing: getting together with three of my fellow 20-year-old friends and recording an album that sounds like the work of the most senior of souls. An album that intertwines the simplest of notes with the voices of boy-girl back-and-forth to make something ever so seductive. I wish this album had been around when I was 20; I could have used it in my attempts to “hunker down” with the ladies. Probably would have worked better than throwing on the first Violent Femmes album or whatever dumb/sensitive move I was prone to make.

Seriously, when I was 20, my lone attempts at making music involved trying to sing the songs from Alice in Chains’ Sap EP while my roommate played the acoustic guitar, or the time me and two buddies knocked out some song called “Lighter” which was about, erm, not being able to find a lighter. It had a bit of early Rolling Stones influence, perhaps a bit of Talking Heads or Television, matched up with some early R.E.M. or something…wait, no, it was none of those things. It was a Casio keyboard and some form of percussion and the aforementioned lyrics about a missing lighter.

Meanwhile, these four (at the time, before Baria was booted from the band) 20-year-olds put out the best debut album ever. Equal parts gorgeous gloom and sensuality to spare. I’m not sure which element of the xx sound is more vital: the guitar tone that fills the room without a flurry of notes and without loud effect, or the heart-melting voice of Romy Madley Croft. (These two elements are on display in the songs “Shelter” and “Night Time,” the second and third songs in my sampler above.)

There’s something about those echo/chorus/whatever-drenched guitar notes that cause them to hit me right in the pleasure region of my brain. Something about the tone, which seems a good match for the dark vibe of the overall song. Or perhaps because I love the way such a minimalist approach yields such great payoff.

And Romy’s voice…did I mention that yet? I think it’s safe to say it’s one of my favorite voices in music history: the hush, the whisper, the sorrow, the longing, the sweetness, the sighs. For someone who looks a little bit like an early-era Robert Smith (before the hair got crazy), she’s got one hell of a beautiful voice.

(And to be fair, she’s actually pretty cute. Seeing her in concert was an experience. So polite, so unassuming, so appreciative of the adoring audience at First Avenue. I wish I were still at the show.)

Although the album is a very cohesive, singular statement, there’s enough variety here that it isn’t just a 39-minute drone. A faster pace is set with songs like “Intro” (which was featured in that AT&T commercial with Apolo Anton Ohno), “Crystalised,”  and my favorite xx song thus far, “Islands” (which features a brilliant video that I’ll embed below).

That beat. The guitar line that is joined by that slinky bass line. Those four-note blasts of bass, both from Oliver Sim’s stringed instrument and Jamie xx’s producer’s table. And the lyrical content…well, I have my own interpretation, and it’s kinda heartbreaking. I see no reason to share my thoughts, as I’d rather you listen to the words and watch the video and draw your own conclusion. Bottom line: so. fucking. good.

The band can get a little quirky and drop references to HBO programming (“VCR”), throw down some good ol’ hand-clapping pop tunes (“Heart Skipped a Beat,” “Basic Space”), allow the low end to take center stage (“Fantasy,” the tail end of the album closer “Stars,” which practically blew a hole in my chest at First Avenue), and get dark and intense (“Infinity,” “Shelter,” “Night Time”).

The music can work for people madly in love. It can work for people who are experiencing heartbreak. It can work for people holding out hope for happiness. It can work for people wanting to dance around the room (at times, anyway). It can work at the gym. It can work on a road trip. It can work as background music. It can work as just about anything.

For something so simple, it is incredibly versatile and mature. That’s why after just three years of existence, I put this as my #4 album of all time…and I’m not sure it’s peaked yet.

Todd’s #4: The Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots

(click play button below to sample this album)

yoshimiQuestion…Can a record about a Japanese girl fighting evil pink robots be any good?
Answer…Hells yeah! If the record is The Flaming Lips’ album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Were you thinking of another album about a Japanese girl ridding the planet of pink robot evil-doers?

Well actually, only the first few songs follow the theme of robots that develop emotions and attempt to destroy us all.

The first song “Fight Test” is nice little song that sets the tone for the album. If you think it sounds familiar that’s because apparently they consciously or unconsciously stole the melody from the Cat Stevens’ song “Father and Son.” I can sort of hear it, but come on dude, let it go. He actually sued them and won the case. He gets royalties from it now. Didn’t he give up his wealth when he changed his name and went all Muslim on everyone? I guess ol’ Yusuf needed a cash infusion. Anyways, “Fight Test” sets the seen for a fight to come between man and machine where the first stance of man is one of pacifism.

I thought I was smart – I thought I was right
I thought it better not to fight – I thought there was a
Virtue in always being cool – so when it came time to
Fight I thought I’ll just step aside and that time would
Prove you wrong and that you would be the fool

The next song, “One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21”, continues the weirdness as robots come to life and develop emotions…they are sad (tear).

Unit three thousand twenty one is warming
Makes a humming sound, when its circuits
Duplicate emotions, and a sense of coldness detaches
As it tries to comfort your sadness,
One more robot learns to be something more than
A machine, when it tries the way it does, make it seem
Like it can love

Song three, “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots 1” brings us the first appearance of our heroine Yoshimi.

Her name is Yoshimi
She’s a black belt in karate
Working for the city
She has to discipline her body

Clearly, she can kick some ass. The townsfolk plead for help..

Oh Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots eat me
Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots defeat me

This leads to the epic battle in the fourth song “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots 2”, which is an instrumental song mixed in with the screeching, squealing, fighting sounds of Yoshimi. Mostly, it sounds like she is doing something much more pleasurable than fighting robots. Until the end that is, where it sounds like she is being gutted with a citrus zester. The robot fighting theme ends there. After that, The Lips delve into a lot of other heady material mixed in with their wonderfully bizarre and beautiful music.

Quite often I associate albums with a season of the year. Al Green and Joy Division are normally autumn albums while Pixies and The Clash usually get played in the winter. Yoshimi is solidly placed in the “Summertime Albums” category.

Could it be that there is a song on it called “It’s Summertime”?…Maybe.

Could it be because I bought Yoshimi in the early summer of 2003 and didn’t stop listening to it until winter 2004?… Maybe.

Could it be that when I hear the sunny sounding songs like “Do You Realize?” and “Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell” all I can think of is lazy Sunday drives with my wife in my new truck (I loved that damn truck. I had to sell it when we had kids a year later) and her wearing gloriously short shorts in the seat next to me?… Definitely.

livewireI don’t have any memories prior to us having kids together that are better than those. We would hop in the truck, grab some orange soda (Mountain Dew LiveWire to be exact. We both may have had a small chemical dependency for whatever they put in LiveWire that summer. It was the devil’s nectar. It tastes so sweet and gives you that extra boost of energy to get you through the day. Unfortunately, it had like 42000 calories per can or something like that. Basically, if I wanted to keep my svelte physique, I had to put down the LiveWires), put Yoshimi in the CD player and drive around looking at houses that we couldn’t afford.

I still play Yoshimi a few times every summer. Usually while on the treadmill or on a family road trip. The wife and I don’t get too many lazy Sunday drives alone anymore, but Yoshimi and drives with the kids can be nice too. Plus, if the car breaks down we just let the kiddos drink a few LiveWires and they can pull us home.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

#30-21

#20-16

#15-11

#10

#9

#8

#7

#6

#5

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #5

Yep, we’ve made a list. Two separate lists, actually, so the above graphic is a bit misleading. Accounting for the limited overlap in Todd’s and Chris’ lists, it’s more like the top 174 or something like that.

Anyway, after months of scientific analysis, hours of listening and re-listening to albums from years gone by, we have arrived at a definitive list of the top albums ever recorded. Our research is not open to interpretation, but you’re more than welcome to complain about the fact that your favorite albums aren’t on this list; we’ll simply respond by telling you that your favorite records aren’t really all that good.

We’ve reached the really good stuff: our top 10s. We’ll roll these out one per day (Monday-Friday) over the next two weeks, reaching #1 on Friday, Dec. 14. The following week, we’ll unveil our favorite music from 2012.

Let’s get on with it…

Chris’ #5: The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico

(click play button below to sample this album)

velvet underground and nico coverOne of my favorite parts of Oliver Stone’s The Doors is the part where Jim and the Doors go hang out at the Exploding Plastic Inevitable and meet Andy Warhol. For one, you get the wonderful performance by Crispin Glover as Warhol; that cameo ranks right up there with his tour de force as George McFly. Second, Jim tries to drink Nico under the table and ends up going up an elevator while the blonde beauty goes down (Nico boobs, too).

But third, you get the delirious high of the Velvet Underground, as “Venus in Furs” and “Heroin” are both played in the background throughout the scene. Once the movie was over, it was time to look through my dad’s vinyl collection to find that album with the banana on the cover. (Of course he had it…)

The album is a 49-minute lo-fi blast that has a little bit of everything (tinkling xylophones, a German chanteuse, soft songs, straightforward romps) and a lot of viola, feedback, monotone vocals (from Lou Reed and Nico), low-end drums (especially floor toms, and no cymbals, as Lou felt they drowned out guitars), and a feeling of the underbelly of society. Music that reflected the band’s image of black clothes, black shades, bleak outlook, beautiful noise.

If you like punk rock, you have to like the bare minimalism and nihilism reflected in these tunes. If you like the no-wave scene and NYC bands like Sonic Youth, these are your favorite bands’ godparents. If you enjoy stuff like Nirvana and other feedback-drenched tunes, these guys were doing it long before. If you worship the drug tales of Axl Rose or Layne Staley, consider that “Mr. Brownstone” and “Angry Chair” aren’t as likely if not for VU songs like “Waiting for the Man” (that song might as well be the father of “Mr. Brownstone”) or “Heroin.”

But as cool and unique as John Cale’s viola can be on this album, sometimes you just want to hear some uptempo, gritty guitar songs, and the Velvets deliver those with the aforementioned “Waiting for the Man” and tunes like “Run Run Run” and “There She Goes Again.” And even though it sounds at times as if Nico is singing her vocals while reading from phonetically transcribed lyric sheets, the songs do have a dreamy quality to them; “I’ll Be Your Mirror” might be the most traditionally beautiful thing on this album.

But in terms of true Velvet Underground beauty, it’s tough to beat “Venus in Furs.” Cale’s viola swoops in and out, accenting the guitar work of Reed and Sterling Morrison, all providing the bed for Reed’s tales of submission and bondage. Reed’s low-key delivery of lines like “Whiplash girl child in the dark” and “Taste the whip, in love not given lightly / taste the whip / now bleed for me” just bring that extra edge to the subject matter (as if it really needed it, especially when the album came out in 1967). It sounds like art rock and shoegaze and punk rock all rolled into one.

And that “Heroin” ditty is pretty sweet too.

The band wasn’t long for this world: Nico was never fully brought into the band and Warhol was not retained as “producer” beyond the first album; John Cale left before it was all said and done, too (after White Light/White Heat, the only other front-to-back-outstanding Velvet Underground album). But The Velvet Underground and Nico remains a treasure for the listener to “peel slowly and see” what lies within.

Todd’s #5: Jeff Buckley, Grace

(click play button below to sample this album)

graceIn the spring of ’95, one of the shitty radio stations where I lived changed formats to alternative rock. You can imagine my elation. Good music on the radio! Being as it was fairly new, the owners must have run out of money or something because they only had like fifty records. They seemed to play the same twenty new songs along with about thirty oldies. I probably heard The Smiths’ “How Soon is Now” three times a day. They also played a ton of New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and many other classic alt-rock bands. As for the newer music, it was a cavalcade of Alanis Morissette and early Foo Fighters. One of the more random new songs on heavy rotation was Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye.” I liked it right from the start. It was kind of catchy and a nice change from the more typical dude rock of the day. The thing that struck me most was the lyrics. Not something I typically notice right away, I tend to listen to music more by the feel of it. He’s singing about the end of a relationship and love lost (A common theme on Grace). The first verse says it all.

This is our last goodbye
I hate to feel the love between us die
But it’s over
Just hear this and then I’ll go
You gave me more to live for
More than you’ll ever know

That’s some pretty vulnerable stuff to float out there in between Stone Temple Pilots and Green Day songs. I bought Grace and played “Last Goodbye” quite a bit but never really got around to listening to the whole album until a year or so later when I routinely played it in the background when I  studied. Probably not a great idea because I often got lost in the music instead of in Ohm’s Law. V= I times what again??? The opening track “Mojo Pin” would hook me right in. It’s another song about love lost and it’s soaring vocals would leave most singers breathless.

If only you’d come back to me
If you laid at my side
I wouldn’t need no Mojo Pin to keep me satisfied

Don’t wanna weep for you, I don’t wanna know
I’m blind and tortured, the white horses flow

He could definitely write about heartache and deliver it with conviction. I remember listening and thinking “Dude seriously feels that shit.” Nowhere is that more evident than in my favorite song from Grace, “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over.” In this song, he bears his soul to a woman he regrettably fucked over but wants another chance with. This song is so chock full of great lyrics that I should just post them all here but I’ll just pick a few of the choice nuggets of yearning and you can listen to sampler above for the rest.

Sometimes a man gets carried away, when he feels like he should be having his fun
And much too blind to see the damage he’s done
Sometimes a man must awake to find that really, he has no-one

Translation: I porked someone else and I’m real real real real sorry about that.

So i’ll wait for you… and i’ll burn
Will I ever see your sweet return
Oh will I ever learn

Oh lover, you should’ve come over
‘Cause it’s not too late

Translation: I really am sorry and I wish you would return my phone calls. I’m at home so call me anytime, I’ll be here. Please?

This next part always kills me. Some of the best words ever penned.

It’s never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It’s never over, all my riches for her smiles when i slept so soft against her
It’s never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It’s never over, she’s the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

A touch stalker-ish, but holy shit that’s good stuff. If the girl he was writing about didn’t forgive him for at least one more night in the sack then she is part robot.

A word of caution though:

If you are secretly pining away or in love with someone and have not told them yet, you should not listen to this song repeatedly every night for months on end. It does not help soothe any intense feelings of longing. It only serves to amplify those feelings times a billion. I know of this effect firsthand. Luckily, I married the person I was pining away for, but you may not be so lucky. Godspeed to all you lovelorn fools out there.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

#30-21

#20-16

#15-11

#10

#9

#8

#7

#6