MoSS? Madness 2014: Best “Side One, Track One” Song

moss-mad-16 2014

It’s time again baby! That’s right, the most exciting event since the invention of the bracket, MoSS? Madness 2014. This year we are keeping with the Sweet 16 model from last year. Why only 16? Well, many reasons. First, no early round snoozer match-ups. Who wants to sit through a bunch of blow outs before we get into the good stuff? Second, I’m lazy. I can only spend so much time at my PC using Google Docs and MS Paint for this stuff. Third, what’s with all the questions? Just go with it and mind your business.

This year you are going to be voting for your favorite “Side One, Track One” song. Not familiar with the term “Side One, Track One?” Remember back in the old days when we had to listen to albums and tapes? We’re talking about the rare instance when an artist or band kicks off side one of their album with a particularly great song. Most times (not all the time) this turns out to be the start of an excellent album as a whole. Others times the artist blows their wad right away and the rest of the album is,well, a turd.

With only 16 songs in the competition, many songs didn’t make the cut. Some of your favorites may not be on the mix. Can’t wait to hear about the ones we should have included. Really. Give us hell in the comments. You may be wondering, “How can one choose between such beloved classics as “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit?” A difficult task no doubt. You’ll have to figure that out if you want to help us crown the MoSS? Madness 2014 Champion.

Also, everyone should send their condolences to Chris. His Iowa Hawkeyes lost in their bid to get into the NCAA round of 64 last night. Valiant effort though boys. Now I expect you all to be cheering for my #3 seeded Iowa State Cyclones. Let’s go Clones! First things first, vote below!

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MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever, #7

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’ #7: Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream

(click play button below to sample this album)

siamese dream coverI geeked out over Gish, as I documented 10 spots ago in this countdown. As a result, some dangerous expectations were set for the sophomore record, which came out two years later, in 1993. Would I be cringing upon first listen?

The opening drum roll of “Cherub Rock” hooked me. The addition of each instrument a little bit at a time built the suspense. By the time we got to the guitar solo, I was celebrating. And by song’s end, I was screaming “LET ME OUT” right along with Billy.

As much as I liked Gish, Siamese Dream took Smashing Pumpkins to a new level. Like “Hey, The Cure, you’re losing your spot on the perch of my favorite bands list” level of devotion.

Because of my fanaticism, I feel I should pen the following letter.

Dear College Roommate of 1993-94:

I’m sorry I killed such an awesome album. Seriously. Toward the end of our cohabitation period, I’m pretty sure you wanted to “Disarm” our stereo, because all I ever listened to that year was Siamese Dream. You would wake up, thinking maybe, possibly I would be listening to something else, but no, “Today” was like every other day. I’m sure you thought I was a loser, a real “Geek U.S.A.” of sorts. Can’t our speakers enjoy some peace and “Quiet,” or at least some Mr. Bungle, you probably wondered.

At one point, I’m sure you shared my opinion that these songs were the musical equivalent to a “Hummer,” but after 1,000 listens, you probably wanted to put me on a “Rocket” that was heading straight for the “Luna,” turning me into a “Spaceboy” of sorts. And those times when I actually went to class, thereby relenting control of the stereo, I’m sure those moments were “Sweet Sweet” relief.

I hope you have been able to enjoy this album in the years since we shared a dorm room. I also hope I didn’t ruin “Mayonaise” [sic] for you when you made trips to your local deli for a bite to eat.

Sincerely,

Chris

P.S.: Since I couldn’t work these song titles into the letter, “Cherub Rock,” “Soma,” and “Silverfuck.”

cc: Most everyone else I knew during this time

I know I should say great things about this album—there is plenty to say—but I am sure somebody you know (ahem) will handle that at some point between now and the end of time. Just know that in the wake of Siamese Dream, the following actions and thoughts took place:

  • I thought it would be cool to name my firstborn son William Corgan Clair. (My son’s middle name is NOT Corgan, in case you were wondering.)
  • The lone time I adorned my car with a bumper sticker, the sticker was a “Smashing Pumpkins/Siamese Dream” promo.
  • The one time I thought about getting a tattoo, I was going to get the “SP” heart logo (which would have been easier to justify if I had fallen in love with Hart to Hart actress Stephanie Powers or something).

Bottom line: even with the alt-rock revolution of the early ’90s long in the rear view mirror, Siamese Dream remains an album that delivers amazing, heartfelt RAWK time and time again.

Todd’s #7: The Clash, London Calling

(click play button below to sample this album)

london calling coverI was first exposed to The Clash, like a lot of people my age who just missed out on the early punk era, with the song “Rock the Casbah.” I saw the video on an HBO show called Video Jukebox. They played a few choice videos in between showings of Chariots of Fire and The Nude Bomb, the only movies that ever seemed to be on HBO when I was a kid. On this particular episode, they played the videos for Dexy’s Midnight Runner’s “Come On Eileen”, Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, and The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah”. Quite a collection of early ‘80s gems there. The thing that I noticed most about The Clash video (other than Mick’s weird camouflage facemask thingy) was the lead singer’s voice*. It was unlike anything I’d heard before, he had a real gravely sound and seemed like he really needed to clear his throat. Every line delivered was a struggle and he seemed so full of anger. I won’t say that I liked The Clash from the start, but they definitely stuck in my head.

[*I have this ongoing debate about which singer’s voice I would most like to have if I could somehow magically steal it. My decision usually comes down to Joe Strummer of The Clash or Peter Gabriel (another unique voice, rough like Joe Strummers but his seems more effortless). It’s always a toss up. Gabriel wins every time I hear the song “Solisbury Hill.” Strummer wins the debate every time I listen to the song “Clampdown”off of London Calling. Once in my life I’d like to sing like he does on the post-bridge chorus of that song. I’ve driven my wife crazy with frequent spins of “Clampdown.” It’s one of my favorites of all time (seems like I write those words a lot, there’s just a lot of great tunes in the world) and I listen to music a bit obsessively. She always complains when it first comes on but she almost always says “Yeah, that’s a pretty f’ing good song” once it’s finished. I must have her properly brainwashed by now.]

I was later re-introduced to The Clash when a borrowed the greatest hits album, Story of the Clash from a friend. I was already familiar with songs like “Should I Stay, or Should I Go” and the aforementioned “Rock the Casbah” but I really enjoyed most of the other tunes on it too. So, I went to the record store to by a copy for myself. While perusing The Clash CDs,  I noticed most of my favorite songs from Story where on London Calling so I bought that instead. It turned out to be the right move.

The Clash are considered punk rock royalty but London Calling is far from a punk record. When listening now, I don’t really hear much of the punk sound from their earlier releases at all. There are hints of reggae, ska, ‘60s pop, rock-a-billy (Normally that last one would turn me off, but The Clash make it sound good, not like the fucking Stray Cats or something) and regular old rock. The more rock heavy songs actually seem more on par with what Bruce Springsteen or Elvis Costello were doing in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s than Sex Pistols or Ramones type punk. Their live show may have been a different story, I’ve seen footage from their shows and the London Calling songs aren’t nearly as polished as they are on the album.

London Calling was originally a double album so there are quite a few songs on it, but I rarely skip any of them. I think it’s the variety of genres that makes it interesting for me. Sometimes a record can drag and you just skip to the A+ material instead of hang around for the whole thing. Today’s technology makes it even easier to weed out bullshit album filler songs so I appreciate an album like London Calling even more. There’s nothing like pressing play and losing yourself in the music for an hour or so. The best part of my day at work today was listening to all 18 songs with my crappy ear buds turned up to 11. It took all of my will power not to sing along to “Train in Vain.” The people in the cubicles around probably wouldn’t have enjoyed that too much. Much like unleashing potent flatulence, that kind of thing is generally frowned upon in the office.

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

MoSS? Presents… The Undisputed Top Albums Ever: Ineligible Albums and Those That Missed the Cut

We’re taking a little break from our Undisputed Top Albums Ever countdown during this busy holiday week. Instead, we are going to share with you a few albums that didn’t make the cut and a few albums that we’ve declared ineligible for selection. When we were first tasked with making these lists, we decided to limit our top 100 albums to proper releases. This meant no soundtracks, no live albums, no compilations etc. Some great material had to be omitted. Take a look at what didn’t make the cut. Your favorite record could be in there somewhere.

Don’t worry, the countdown continues next week with #20-16.

Chris’ 5 That Missed The Cut

Alice in Chains, Dirt

INXS, Kick

Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti

Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral

Van Halen, 1984 

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

INXS, Kick

cover for kickOnce I realized that Kick was not in my top 100 albums, I nearly chucked all of my analysis out the window. Not sure how this one landed at #102, given how much I worshipped this album growing up. I swear my friend Jeff and I listened to this album 800 times one year, doing SWEET DANCE MOVES more often than not (and changing the lyrics to fit our ridiculous sense of humor…we won’t go into that here). I even bought an INXS t-shirt (and it was tie-dye, naturally).

This was a more overall satisfying disc compared with Listen Like Thieves or The Swing, with song after song tailor made for modern radio but dissimilar from one another as well. “New Sensation” sounded nothing like “Devil Inside,” which sounded nothing like “Need You Tonight,” and then there was the one with the strings (“Never Tear Us Apart”). And then you had the leadoff track, “Guns in the Sky,” which is probably a bit flimsy as far as political commentary goes but sounded pretty kick-ass back then. And that monotone rhyming thing on “Mediate” was pretty cool…

Anyway, listen to my favorite song from the album below.

Chris’ 5 Ineligible Albums, Soundtracks or Live Albums

Descendents, Liveage!

Ramones, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!: The Anthology

Wings, Wings Over America

Various artists, Pulp Fiction soundtrack

Various artists, No Alternative

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

Descendents, Liveage!

cover for liveageOne of the albums that created the era known as BMCJMMC (Before My Cousin Josh Made Me Cooler) was this wonderful 20-song blast of live ’80s punk by Descendents. (You can’t go wrong with the studio compilation, Somery, either.) Now, granted, my 13-year-old ears perked right up once opening track* “I’m Not a Loser” unleashed an avalanche of profanity (the last four lines or so are right in the wheelhouse of a junior high kid). But once I finally stopped laughing and rewinding that song (yep, cassette era), I discovered some of the greatest punk/pop moments from a band that had street cred.

(* – technically, the first track is the one word/one note blast called “All”)

The music is tight, lean, and full of wonderful lyric topics like suburban homes and funky vans that function as homes and silly girls and not being a cool guy anymore and wanting time to woo a woman and, um, dumb stuff like “I Wanna Be a Bear” and “Weinerschnitzel.” I remember Josh and I figured the singer, Milo, was probably lying in a drug-induced coma in some gutter somewhere, when it turns out he holds a doctorate in biochemistry. Milo Goes to College, indeed. Listen to “Silly Girl” below…

Todd’s 5 That Missed The Cut

Frank Ocean, Nostalgia Ultra

U2, Achtung Baby

Massive Attack, Protection

Pixies, Bossanova

M83, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

Frank Ocean, Nostalgia Ultra

I had two issues with this record being on the list.

Issue #1. It was too new. I have a very hard time ranking an album that is only a year old in my top 100. I need time to really decide if it is worthy. Check with me in two years and I bet it will make the cut. In the meantime, watch out Bjork, Frank is coming to take your spot.

Issue #2. That fucking “American Wedding” catastrophe near the end of the album. It’s basically him singing over the music of The Eagles “Hotel California.” A song I loath. Don Henley threatened to sue Frank Ocean if he didn’t quit sing the song. I think the world should threaten to sue Don Henley if he doesn’t stop singing it.

Here’s an example of a good song from the album.

Todd’s 5 Ineligible Albums, Soundtracks or Live Albums

Guns N’ Roses, Live Era ’87-’93

Fleetwood Mac, The Dance

Various Artists, Grosse Pointe Blank Soundtrack

Various Artists, Once (Music from the Motion Picture)

Various Artists, Singles Soundtrack

A CLOSER LOOK AT…

Gross Point Blank Soundtrack

I know this soundtrack is really just an ’80s music playlist but I love it. So many great artists on it. Violent Femmes, Guns N’ Roses, The Clash, Queen with David Bowie. How can you go wrong? Not only are the artists great but the songs they chose by those artists are some of my all time favorites. Examples: Queen’s “Under Pressure”(Not Rob Van Winkle’s “Ice Ice Baby”), The Clash’s “Rudy Can’t Fail” and one my top five favorite songs ever “Pressure Drop.” Many people have covered this Toots and the Maytals classic. The Clash actually have an A+ cover version that I love. My favorite version is on this soundtrack and it is done by legendary ska band The Specials.  Check it out below.

Previous installments:

#100-91

#90-81

#80-71

#70-61

#60-51

#50-41

#40-31

#30-21

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Sweet 16

The Cinderella story continues! Thanks to your votes Pearl Jam (again by a single vote) was victorious over David Bowie to move into the Sweet 16.  #15 seeds Smashing Pumpkins and The Cure also dominated in their respective match-ups to move on to the next round. The remaining #1 seeds all won their pairings and look to remain undefeated. Can Pearl Jam prolong this amazing run through to the Elite 8? Will we lose a second #1 seed? I think even Pink Floyd would vote against Pink Floyd in their upcoming match-up against The Beatles. Now it is up to you, the readers, to decide. All four regions’ match-ups are ready to go. Please make your selections below.

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Round of 32 Results

The Cinderella story continues! Thanks to your votes Pearl Jam, again by a single vote, was victorious over David Bowie to move into the Sweet 16.  #15 seeds Smashing Pumpkins and The Cure also dominated in their respective match-ups to move on to the next round. The remaining #1 seeds all won their pairings and look to remain undefeated when the voting for the MoSS? Madness Sweet 16 begins on Thursday. Click on the bracket above to see which other artists moved on.

Again, thanks for voting. It’s been a long 4 days of basketball, brackets and ridiculous musical death matches. You may find it hard to go back to your normal lives again. Do you actually have to WORK at the office now? The answer is no. Please view this youtube clip from the movie Teen Wolf  to help keep you distracted from your daily tasks.

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Round of 32

Thanks to your votes the impossible happened. A #1 lost to a #16 in March! That’s right, by one single vote, Pearl Jam handed Elvis Presley a first round defeat. That wasn’t the only highly ranked artist to get knocked out in the first round. Much like Hampton over Iowa State (That one still stings), 2 seeds were dropping like flies. My beloved Smashing Pumpkins easily handled rock and roll legend Chuck Berry.  The Cure squeaked out a 1 vote victory over  “Soul Brother Number One” James Brown (Chris should be very pleased). Nine Inch Nails narrowly escaped their pairing with Little Richard. The only victorious #2 was guitar god Jimi Hendrix who put a beat down on Journey. I guess you can stop believin’ now Steve Perry.

The upcoming Round of 32 should be equally as exciting. There are going to be some great match-ups. Can the straight forward hard rock of Van Halen prevail over Metallica’s overpowering heavy metal? Can Pearl Jam pull off another Cinderella-style victory and beat glam rock icon David Bowie for a spot in the Sweet 16? You, the readers, will decide. All four regions’ match-ups are ready to go. Please make your selections below.

MoSS? Madness 2012: The Round of 64

The match-ups for the round of 64 are set. Dexy’s Midnight Runners survived a late rally by Right Said Fred to earn the last #16 seed. Dexy will be going up against the Beatles in the first round. Can they pull a spectacular upset over “The Fab Four”?  It won’t be easy, but your votes could move them on. All four regions’ match-ups are ready to go. Please make your selections below.

Surviving the New Music Wasteland 3: A New Hope

For a few glorious years in the mid 90’s, the music I liked was considered popular music. I had no trouble finding out about new bands because they were actually being played on the radio. It was a golden age, but as Ponyboy once said, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. (Man, those Greasers sure knew their Frost poems).

Slowly things began to change. I didn’t notice at first but there were warning signs. Eventually in the late ’90s and early 2000s radio stations were only playing carbon copied pop stars and awful post grunge rock bands. So I turned off the radio and wandered aimlessly through a period I called “The New Music Wasteland”. Good new music was so hard to find that I just gave up.

I spent my time rediscovering music that I already loved or did my homework on bands that I had always wanted to listen to. This would usually send me into 3-4 month obsessive periods where I would listen only to one artist or band. That meant all works by the band, including all side projects and solo recordings. It was a grueling effort and people within earshot of me tended to get a bit irritated. (By month 2 of my obsession with The Clash, my wife answered their question of ”Should I Stay or Should I Go?” with a resounding “Get the hell out and take Big Audio Dynamite I and II with you”.)

Of course, this cycle can only go on for so long. I was deep into a Pixies overdose and about to cook up a gigantic Frank Black speedball when I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “There’s got to be a better way!” So I went cold turkey. There just had to be some decent new music out there and I would have to force myself to find it.

After a few days of Pixies detox, I went to my upstairs office PC. We’d had the computer for a year or more but it had mostly been used for email and checking porn scores…I mean sports porn…I mean…well, you know what I mean. So I sat down at the computer and brought up Windows Media Player. It instantly brought up the last thing I had listened to which just happened to be a Pixies/Frank Black/Breeders playlist. Not wanting to fall back into old habits I quickly deleted the playlist. Easy, Todd! One step at time.

Next I tried to find some completely innocuous music to play. Something entertaining but something that wouldn’t send me into another 3 month tailspin of research and investigation. That’s when I saw the Media Guide tab on the Windows player. I’d never noticed the tab before so I clicked on it. One of the options in the media guide was “Internet Radio”. Interesting. Radio on the Internet? How futuristic. There was a list of stations with any genre of music you could think of from Adult Contemporary to Urban/R&B and stuck in the middle was Indie Rock.

I clicked on one of the channels and was blown away. The artist and song title were listed on the screen. You didn’t have sit around and wait for a DJ to come on and recap the playlist. The first song I heard was by a band unknown to me at the time The Shins. The song was “Girl on the Wing”.

Needless to say I was hooked in right there. I spent the next few hours bouncing between radio stations and Napster (FYI, I only used Napster to preview music. I totally went out and bought the material later. Seriously, I’m not lying. What? OK, fine. SOMETIMES I just downloaded the music for free and didn’t go out and buy it. Sue me. Oh shit! No. Please don’t sue me)

I found plenty of other great songs like The Flaming Lips “Race for the Prize”. I was aware of The Flaming Lips mainly from their odd little song “She Don’t Use Jelly” from the early 90’s. Check out their bizarre appearance on 90210. They sing “She Don’t Use Jelly” at the world famous Beverly Hills hot spot The Peach Pit After Dark. Make sure you hang in until the 50 second mark so you can see Steve Sanders awkwardly rocking out. Cracks me up every time.

The Lips completely changed their musical direction with the album The Soft Bulletin featuring “Race for the Prize”  and I loved it.

The album I ran across that got the most air time afterwards was probably Ben Folds’ 1st solo album Rockin’ the Suburbs. Like the Flaming Lips I was familiar with his previous work. The Ben Folds 5 (The name gets extra cool points since there was only 3 of them) had a few records out in the 90’s but I was never a big fan. I kind of got burned out on their song “Brick”. The new solo record was different. It was one of those rare albums that I could just play the whole way through and never have to skip over any sucky songs. Rockin’ the Suburbs didn’t have a single stinker on it.

I liked it so much that I dragged my wife with me to Kansas City where we stood outside in the rain for hours to watch him perform. We came home with walking pneumonia and a sweet Rockin’ the Suburbs concert T-Shirt.

So I must give thanks to Bill Gates and technology in general for giving me new hope and showing me the path to escape  “The New Music Wasteland”.  Since then I’ve discovered many other new music sources and haven’t had any major Pixies or Clash related music relapses. That’s right. Clash free. I just got my 10 year chip. One day at a time.