Music You Should Be Listening To: February 2013

Before I get started on the February music post I wanted to share something with you loyal readers. I realized something about myself today… I have a super power. Can I shoot laser beams out of my eyes? No. Do I have retractable Wolverine-like titanium claws? No. My power is the ability to predict when a shitty song or group will be playing on your radio. You need proof?  Here it is…

Exhibit A

When I was 16 some friends and I sneaked onto the local golf course after dark with a golf cart key and case of beer. (You can imagine the hijinks that followed) After a few cold ones, I remembered that I brought a little portable radio. A debate immediately started amongst us underage drinkers about which station to choose. One guy wanted the local pop station. My response was something like this. “Fuck that station. All they ever play is that “I Want Money” song.” The song I was referring to was this piece of shit by Calloway.

To prove my point, I grabbed the radio and tuned it to the station. Everyone was amazed when “I Wanna Be Rich” was actually playing. To celebrate my newly unleashed powers we danced around high fiving and chugging beer.

Exhibit B

When I was in my early 20s, my girlfriend and I were driving around in her car. She wanted me to change the channel from the alt-rock station I loved to a classic rock station. I said, “No way. I don’t want to hear some shitty Journey song.” (I used to dislike Journey more than The Eagles if you can believe it. Don’t get excited Don Henley. I’ll always hate you. Since then I have realized the awesomeness of Steve Perry. I’m working on Chris. He still hates Journey.) Then I started singing the lyrics to the song, “Feeling that Way/Anytime.”

As I spun the dial over to the classic rock channel, the exact lyrics I was singing started playing over the speakers. My girlfriend was astonished and a little freaked out. Clearly, I had honed my skills and was now THE song predicting force in the universe.

Exhibit C

For some reason today, I started thinking about how the regular radio sucks and how I haven’t had to use my powers since I got satellite radio in the mid 2000s. I decided to test myself on the way home from work to see if “I still had it.” My plan was to turn on the local rock station as I was driving by Iowa City. What band’s song would be playing? I used all my song predicting muscles and came up with Incubus/Linkin Park. I didn’t pick just one because I can’t tell them apart and they are both equally shitty. As I rolled past Iowa City’s ever mysterious B’jaysville Lane, I turned off my satellite radio and tuned over to 94.1 KRNA. This is the awfulness that was playing.

Linkin Park. I still got it.

Anyways, I started thinking about how I could finally use this super useful skill. This is how. Take my advice, turn off your radios and listen to these MoSS? approved February releases.

m b v album coverMy Bloody Valentine, m b v

Yes, the unthinkable happened and MBV announced via their Facespace page that they had a new record and website. The website immediately crashed and I wore out my computer’s refresh button until I was able to download the album. Chris already shared some thoughts on the record so I won’t go on too long about it. I will share this…The night of the release as I was constantly refreshing and battling the dreaded “403 Server Error”, I read a lot of comments on the MBV Facebook page. The best comments were by younger fans. They didn’t really get the excitement of us older dudes. One kid posted something like, “the only people that care about this album are middle-aged white dudes in the suburbs.” He nailed my demographic for sure. I don’t think he was 100% correct but m b v was certainly the biggest thing to happen in my world of music in a long time.

Key Track(s) – All songs are A+. Chris has described this album as the second coming of Christ. Yeah, it’s that good.

cocaine 80sCocaine 80s, The Flower of Life

The Frank Ocean collaborator came out with this EP a few weeks back and I’ve had it on steady rotation ever since. It sounds like what I wanted the last Frank Ocean record to sound like. The Flower of Life is full of life while Ocean’s Channel Orange seems sluggish.

That’s a short list but February is the shortest of months now isn’t it? Fine. If you need more, check out these albums I haven’t had a chance to listen to enough to comment on. At least it’s not Linkin Park.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, II

Parquet Courts, Light Up Gold

Iceage, You’re Nothing

Beach Fossils, Clash the Truth

Chris’ last-minute post-script suggestions

I’m on board with many of Todd’s suggestions, and I’ll add two more albums I’ve been spinning (digitally speaking) lately:

Grouper, The Man Who Died in His Boat

OK, so you can’t really understand a lot of what ambient/noise musician is singing but when she uses her voice as another instrument, what does it really matter? Gorgeous, haunting vocals float over simple strumming and echoing tunes to create quite the mood. Good nighttime music.

Sample a song from the new album, used in this YouTube video to soundtrack some random VHS footage:

Veronica Falls, Waiting for Something to Happen

If you like Slumberland bands (the record label, not the furniture store), you can’t go wrong with this quartet of Brits. I heard the band’s debut from 2011 and thought it was pretty cool, but the second album has really hooked me. Jangle pop and boy-girl vocals galore. If you’re going to listen to Grouper as you lay yourself down to sleep, Veronica Falls makes for great tunes first thing in the morning. VF is playing in Chicago in about two weeks; I’d love to sneak away for a MoSS? Pit report. (Alas, parenthood and what not…)

Check out “Teenage” below:

I might be in the minority here, but based on the two or three songs I’ve listened to so far, the Shout Out Louds album Optica sounds pretty cool to me.

Surviving the New Music Wasteland 2: Attack of the Clones

As you may have already read, there was a period in the late ’90s and early 2000s that I dubbed “The New Music Wasteland”. This was a period in which the music I listened to was no longer considered mainstream music. Radio stations changed formats, popular music took on a totally different shape, and I was left to wander aimlessly through the aftermath.

Now, I wasn’t living under a rock in those days. Even though I quit listening to the radio (All but sports talk. Who knew you could listen to people talk about the same three sports news items all day and not get bored?) I did see and hear what was happening in the world of pop music. It was The Clone Wars. Just like the Evil Empire, record companies took whatever crap was selling and copied it over and over. But unlike The Emperor who pumped out Stormtrooper after perfect Stormtrooper, (except maybe this one) the copies got shittier and shittier as they cranked them out. If we learned anything from the Michael Keaton movie Multiplicity, it was that a copy of a copy is always of lesser quality. Eventually, instead of a handsome movie star you end up with Sloth from Goonies. It happened in all genres of music but it was most notable in three basic forms.

Bellybutton Pop:

It all started with Britney Spears. Who didn’t feel for that young girl? Her loneliness was killing her! She pleaded for us to hit her “… Baby One More Time”. Next came Christina Aguilera with “Genie in a Bottle,” inappropriately asking us all for some release by “rubbing her the right way.” Soon any underage blonde that could hold a tune (Not even that important) had her tits propped up and her bellybutton out for perverts and little girls across the country. Check out these album covers from roughly the same 1-2 year period.

Blonde girl? Check.

Breasts in view? Check.

Bellybutton out? Check.

Lips slightly parted? Check.

Can she sing? Uhhh sort of.

Who cares! Let’s make a record!

Super Dreamy Boy Bands:

Now this trend has been around for a long time. The ’80s had their share of boy bands as New Edition, Menudo, and New Kids on the Block all had various levels of popularity. But in the late 90’s boy bands hit their peak. Groups like ‘N SYNC, 98 Degrees, and Backstreet Boys were all the rage, also to the delight of pervs and little girls everywhere. Don’t be fooled, there was a formula for it all. First, the poppy dance number to get our attention. Then, the slow emotional song to make us all fall in love. I know I couldn’t look into the eyes of any of these guys without them “Tearing Up My Heart”. Come on! Look at these press shots.

The fashion sense. The creepy facial hair. Are they good boys? Are they bad boys? Are they straight? Are they gay?

Who cares! Let’s make a record!

Shit Rock. Or The Horrible Never Ending Cavalcade of Shitty Post-Grunge Rock Bands:

They were usually either some awful Pearl Jam knock off, or some half rock, half rap 311 sounding crap. Judging by these band photos they all must have had the same publicist too.

For some reason it was very important for everyone to know the bands pecking order. Band members got lined up presumably by importance. Lead singer, Lead guitar, everyone else…

“Hey! You in back. Yeah, drummer guy. We’re still seeing too much of you.”

“Ok, no one smile and ….. perfect.”

But, are they any good?

Who cares! Let’s make a record!

Salvation finally came in the form of satellite and internet radio. But in the meantime I had to find alternate methods to satisfy my musical appetite. Naturally, I did what everyone does in times of trouble… look back on better days. Here are a few examples of some artists I rediscovered during this time. Maybe this could serve as a guide if you ever find yourself stuck in your own “New Music Wasteland”.


Before there was grunge rock and Nirvana there was The Pixies. Kurt Cobain actually admitted that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was a conscious attempt to copy the Pixies. He also said The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa was one of his main musical influences. I listened to all things Pixies for pretty much an entire year. This forced my wife to have to listen to all things Pixies. She didn’t mind too much until the Frank Black solo stuff came out. I think she began to feel like Manuel Noriega when the U.S. bombarded him with heavy metal music to get him to surrender. The Pixies were definitely ahead of their time and are worth a listen, but learn from my mistakes. There will be no “hunkering down” whilst the music of Doolittle is playing.


Every few years I see some retrospective or documentary about Bruce Springsteen and end up feeling like I should try to get into his music. I dive into his early work and then remember that I was not born in New Jersey nor am I the son of a coal miner. The music of “The Boss” just doesn’t speak to me like it does other people. Glowing review right? My ambivalence doesn’t mean it’s not work checking out though. There’s some good stuff there you just have to sift through the crap.

The most hilariously awkward moment in music video history

Coming Soon SNMW 3: A New Hope