Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Songs for the Weak

"Eppure Pretendevi di Essere Chiamata Amore" by Fabrizio Moro
Italian powerballads are my favorite kind of world music. Seriously, though, if this song were in English, it'd be a hit on top 40 radio. A less clunky title might also help: it means "And you claimed to be called love." One thing you learn from exploring other countries' iTunes is that pop stars are pretty ridiculous no matter where you go, which I find kind of comforting.

[Available on iTunes]

"Just to See You Smile (Orchestral Mix)" by Spaceman 3
Usually I'm not into slow, psychedelic music, but this song is like a dream come true. The spacey production, the gentle pitter-patter of the drums: it's hard to believe that something so peaceful came from a band known for its infighting. Maybe the title of the band's first compilation can give us a clue. It was called " Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To."
[Available on iTunes]

"One Big Love" by Patty Griffin
She's best known for heartrending songs like "Useless Desires," but this one makes me excited about the summer. I can see myself blasting it while cruising down JFK (the parkway near my house). Maybe I'm heading to the mall -- hopefully the beach, though.
[Available on iTunes]

"My Chrome" by Killer Mike
Killer Mike is that guy who guests on other people's (more famous) songs -- Chamillionaire's "Southern Takeover," Bone Crusher's "Never Scared" -- but this song is better than either of those. He always sounds a little indignant, whether he's bitching about the state of the world ("That's Life") or bragging about driving under the influence (like in this song). Hard to listen to, but even harder to turn off.

[Available on iTunes]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Songs for the Weak

“Get Throwed” by Bun B (featuring Pimp C, Jay-Z, and Young Jeezy)
One thing Southern soul and rap have in common? Heaviness. A fat, greasy track like “Mojo Queen” by Ike & Tina Turner hits you like a ton a bricks, and so does this song. Maybe that’s why a nimble (yankee!) rapper like Jay-Z sounds out of place, while the sluggish Young Jeezy shines.
[Available on iTunes]

“Love Comes Quickly” by Pet Shop Boys
British bands in the '80s seemed to have perfect pop songs coming out of their ass. Can I get a source on this?
[Available on iTunes]

“My Moon, My Man” by Feist
Maybe it’s the gay talking, but this video is sexier than anything Shakira’s ever done.

“Lip Gloss” by Lil’ Mama
This video is like the lovechild of Missy Elliott and “Baby One More Time.” The colorful hallway reminds me of the bathroom at the Guggenheim Bilbao, which was my third favorite thing about the museum (the first two being its architecture and Jeff Koons' Puppy sculpture).

Lip Gloss:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Songs for the Weak

"Lawr A'r Ffrancod / Medley Caerfaddon" by John Morgan
The concertina is a wondrous instrument -- softer and more baroque-sounding than the accordion, but just as versatile. It survived the digital age and you can still hear it in bhangra dance tracks (one of my favorites: "Janj Mahi Ley Aya" by Baldip Jabble). This is a traditional Welsh instrumental from a CD that I found at the library. From the sound of things, Wales is a little more isolated (and a little less inebriated) than other Celtic cultures. I like to imagine this song playing as background music during a Renaissance celebration. Listen to a sample and imagine where you'd play it:

"Upgrade U" by Beyonce (ft. Jay-Z)
Sometimes I think Beyonce is a figment of our collective imagination. Is she made of gold? God only knows.

"Put All Your Eggs in One Basket and
Then Watch That Basket!!" by Marnie Stern
Marnie Stern could have used her girlish voice to be a Cyndi Lauper impersonator, but she apparently decided instead to kick everyone's ass. Good for her. This song is completely ridiculous - she just sings one verse over and over again, like a 3-year-old who's trying to be as annoying as possible. And what the fuck is she saying anyway? I looked up the lyrics, and nowhere to be found was the one line I was sure I'd heard: "Dad is a wino, dad is a wino!" This probably doesn't make it sound like I enjoy the song, but I do. I really, really do.

"I Don't Sleep, I Dream" by REM
REM introduced me to punk rock. That's right - the same band that sings "Shiny Happy People" got me into 999 and The Voidoids. Monster is the only album of theirs that comes close to the genre, and it really only has two songs on it that are recognizably punk - the mile-a-minute "Star 69" and the ferocious "Circus Envy." Still, there's a tension throughout that I find appealing, like on this song. REM's lyrics are notoriously difficult to parse, but certain lines here allude to sex (one of the more obvious ones: "Am I good in bed?"). The song seems to be all about foreplay, and not just in the lyrics: it settles (brilliantly) for not having a climax.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Monday, April 9, 2007

Salad Dressing

Mix some Annie's Naturals Green Garlic Dressing with a bit of Trader Joe's Horseradish Hummus. If I had a blender, I'd also add some ground-up walnuts.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Songs for the Weak

"There Is An End" by Holly Golightly and The Greenhornes
Broken Flowers is terrible. Terrible! And about as slow as George W. Bush. But then the credits start rolling and the audience realizes: there is an end. Which might be why this is the song that's playing. And that's when you go and get the soundtrack.

"Seems Like Old Times" by Harry James
This Monday was pretty rough, especially cos I couldn't go to the pool to get out any of my job-related aggression (the Y's closed for Passover). I figured I would just go home to try to sleep it off, but then I saw that Annie Hall was on, and it made me feel a lot better. This is an old big-band version of a song that plays twice in the movie: once when Diane Keaton sings it in a club, and once over the montage at the end of Annie and Alvie. My friend Rosangela (who actually gave me this version) told me she thought it was cool how even though Diane Keaton isn't a great singer, Woody Allen doesn't go for any laughs in the scenes where she performs. I always think of that when I watch it.

"Androgynous" by The Replacements
God I love The Replacements. There's something so hot about a guy as masculine-sounding as Paul Westerberg defending the gender-benders of the 1980s (which was in some ways a lot more radical than today's culture). I'm from Jersey, but I gotta admit that The Replacements did the working-class, big-'80s-American-rock sound a lot better than Bruce. Listen to "Bastards of Young" if you don't believe me! This song, by contrast, is kind of minimalist - mostly just a piano and a snare drum (it's better than it sounds, promise). And then there's him, singing about kewpie dolls and urine stalls, and all kinds of other things that should make a song sound ridiculous.

"The Fly" by U2
Even when I was going through my whole "I hate U2" phase in college, I found this song pretty irresistible. It was the first single from 1991's Achtung, Baby album, the one that introduced their more electronic dance-rock sound. A lot of people (band members included) like to paint U2 in the '90s as a big, ironic experiment, but this song shows that they could still be passionate when they wanted to be - just listen to the chorus. Ever since I was 10, I've been a little obsessed with the verse that goes

Every artist is a cannibal
Every poet is a thief
They all kill their inspiration
And then sing about the grief...