Music

La Villa Strangiato

“Listen to this song,” he told us. “It’s the coolest.” Robbie was something of an authority on such things, and so I listened. Intently. Sitting stone upright on Dave’s bed. And Robbie was right. It was most definitely the coolest. This wicked keyboard sound introduced a simple, shuffling drumline.

The Shadowlands

I would like to play piano/keyboards in a rock band, and I would like that band to sound as much as possible like Ryan Adams’ “The Shadowlands.” I would also be perfectly content if it sounded like “Political Scientist” or “English Girls Approximately” or almost any other track from Love is Hell.

Fun with Hipsters

I invented a new game last night. It’s called, “Buy the only used copy of Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation at your local indie record shop, then watch all hell break loose when you lay it down on the checkout counter.”

Snow

Since watching Caveh Zahedi’s In the Bathtub of the World on Sunday, I have probably listened to The Innocence Mission’s “Snow” thirty times. Hopefully I’ll find time to write about Bathtub in the next day or two. It’s been a long time since I was so moved by a film.

Fingertips

Dubbing itself “An intelligent guide to free and legal music on the web,” Fingertips provides links to and short commentaries on the week’s best downloads.

Tombigbee

If you’re too hip to like Tori, do me a favor and tell me what you think of this song. It’s a nice change of pace for her. No acoustic piano. A bit of distortion. Borderline lo-fi.

Iron & Wine & Tarkovsky

How strange. I just discovered that Sam Beam, of Iron and Wine, graduated from Florida State’s film school. As an alumnus of that program, my wife receives a monthly email notice, The Warren Report, that offers brief updates on the lives and careers of FSU filmmakers.

Bartok’s Fifth String Quarter

Several years ago, in a seminar on modern and postmodern lit, I wrote a fun paper on Ezra Pound’s music criticism. In particular, I was interested in Pound’s admiration for Bartok’s String Quartet #5.

In the Strangest of Places

What a pleasant surprise to stumble into some nice bits of writing in, of all places, Stereophile magazine.

Holland

It’s a heckuva song from Greetings from Michigan. I’ve added it and Stevens’ latest, Seven Swans, to my Amazon Wish List. Can anyone make a strong case for one album being better than the other? Any other Sufjan fans?

Cucurrucucu Paloma

I’ve been meaning to post this one for some time now. I’m not sure how well “Cucurrucucu Paloma” will work for those of you who haven’t seen Almodovar’s Talk to Her, but I had to buy the soundtrack for this song alone. I just can’t imagine being able to sing like Caetano Veloso. I’d never talk again.

South Side of the Sky

When I was 19 I played piano in a big band. One night, during a break, I started playing part of “South Side of the Sky” and within a minute the rest of the rhythm section joined in. It was really sloppy, but we made it from the end of the piano solo through most of the “la la la la la la la la” part.

Glenn Tipton

I’m pretty sure that this will be the last time I post a Song of the Moment that is named for one of Judas Priest’s guitarists. This song is what the inside of my head sounds like these days.

America

“America” will always be my favorite Paul Simon song. There’s something so beautifully melancholy about the chorus.

Battle of the Bands

Given one — and only one — trip in a rock and roll wayback machine, I would set the controls for the Who’s Next Tour, circa 1971-72.

Chain

“Chain” by The Fire Theft. Why? Because the world needs a good emo waltz, that’s why.

Cross Bones Style

The oft-repeated but still-juicy line from Godard: “The history of cinema is boys photographing girls. The history of history is boys burning girls at the stake.” You can confirm the second sentence by watching TV for three minutes. To confirm the first sentence, watch the Cat Power videos available here at the Matador website.

I’ll Be Gone

I have no idea why I’ve been listening to American Music Club’s San Francisco so much lately — I mean, other than because it’s a great album. “I’ll Be Gone” is a damn fine song.

Quartet

My wife surprised me yesterday afternoon with the Angels in America soundtrack. “Quartet” accompanies the scene that holds the rare honor of having made me cry two nights in a row. What can I say? Art is my refuge from a life of hardened cynicism. I can only imagine what condition I’ll be in on Sunday night when Louis delivers the Kaddish.

Big Dipper

“Big Dipper” is one more track from a mix CD that I received recently. I’ve never been a big fan of Cracker, but this song really works for me. I love the spare arrangement, especially the acoustic piano and steel guitar, but mostly I like this song because of the lyrics and because of David Lowery’s delivery of them.

Wayfaring Stranger

“16 Horsepower is a Gothic country-rock quartet from Denver, but their version of “Wayfaring Stranger” feels so fated, so instinctual, it spreads the South all over the American map, a dusting of damnation on wherever you might be as you listen.” — Greil Marcus

The Wind

A friend and I exchanged mix CDs this week, and apparently I now have to go buy PJ Harvey’s Is This Desire? You know you’re dangerously obsessed with a song when WinAmp is set to repeat and the playlist includes only one track. “The Wind” is totally that song.

Saints and Artists

Paul Ford posted a great piece on the death of Elliott Smith that is all the more timely given the impending release of that Sylvia Plath film.

Are You Awake?

“Are You Awake?” by Kevin Shields is almost literally a song of the moment. At 1 minute, 35 seconds, it’s my shortest selection yet. I grabbed it from the Lost in Translation soundtrack, which I’ve been listening to all day at work. There’s something beautifully hypnotic about it.

The Gloaming

Radiohead broke with routine on Monday night by opening with “The Gloaming.” Like so much of the material from Hail to the Thief, it played better live than on the album. I especially like Colin Greenwood’s new walking bassline.

Mary

I just discovered that Supergrass will be opening for Radiohead Monday night. Very nice! I know that this opinion is terribly unhip, but I’ll say it anyway: More bands need keyboard players, and more songs need keyboard riffs like the one in “Mary.”

Sneakin’ Sally

Robert Palmer has passed away. For years, I knew him only as the “Addicted to Love” guy, but then a friend with a killer CD collection moved into the dorm room across the hall from mine and fired up Sneakin’ Salley Through the Alley (1975). The first three songs on that album are as good as it gets. Of course, that might have more to do with his collaboration with Little Feat than with his own talent, but Palmer obviously had good taste.

Blood on My Hands

I just didn’t get the whole groupie phenomenon until about ten years ago, when I caught The Sundays at a club called The Moon in Tallahassee. Looking up at Harriet Wheeler, my elbows resting on the raised stage, I fell instantly and deeply in love. Or maybe it was lust.

Blinded by the Stars

If there were any justice in this world, Joe Pernice would be on the cover of Rolling Stone and John Mayer would be cleaning Jan Wenner’s pool.

Dream Brother

Even before Jeff Buckley drowned at 30, his voice was thick with melancholy and tragedy. Grace is without question one of the finest albums of the 90s, and “Dream Brother,” the disc’s closer, is proof. Amazing.

Next to You

These are dark days in K-town. On Saturday night, the Jack Astronauts played their farewell show at Manhattan’s in the Old City, and they will be missed. Along with their usual fare — loud, fast surf rock — they also threw in some great covers, including The Ramones’ version of “Happy Birthday” (for our friend’s 28th), “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead, and “Next to You” by The Police.

Little Feat Mix

Let me make this point perfectly clear: Little Feat is the great unsung American rock and roll band. The July mix is a collection of songs from their golden period — roughly 1972 – 1978 — the years when founder Lowell George was at his peak.

Exit Music (For a Film)

Brad Mehldau is such a ridiculously talented pianist, composer, and arranger. His cover of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” isn’t particularly representative of his work, which is often more improvisatory and freeform (check out his Elegiac Cycle album), but it seemed a timely choice. Mehldau’s also been known to cover Neil Young, Nick Drake, […]

There There

Yeah, so like everyone else of my general demographic, I’m listening to the new Radiohead. I mean, it’s, like, required, right? So far, “There There” is my favorite track. Especially at high volumes.

Cupid’s Trick

“Cupid’s Trick” is my favorite Elliot Smith song, and I’ve been listening to a good bit of Elliot Smith lately, for what it’s worth.

Resplendent

What to hear a perfect song? “Resplendent,” by Bill Mallonee and Vigilantes of Love, is as close as it gets. There’s the Bruce Cockburn-like guitar, that sweet snare drum shuffle, and Emmylou’s harmonies.

Bomb the World

In ’94, Michael Franti formed Spearhead, one hell of a roots-based band, and has remained politically engaged. “Bomb the World” is his response to recent events.

Until the End of the World

I usually use the “Song of the Moment” to promote music that readers might not hear otherwise. So why U2? I’m just stuck on “Until the End of the World” right now, and I’m not sure why.

Therefore, I Am

This track is just so rock and roll. I love it. A little advice: the louder you play it, the more transcendent it becomes.

A Mid-’80s Mix

A mix of music I loved between roughly April 1987 (a month before my 15th birthday) and June 1988 (a month after my 16th).

February Mix

Yes, this is actually a mix of music that includes a song by Crash Test Dummies.

The Way We Get By

“The Way We Get By” is just ridiculously catchy. I’ve been listening to a mix of about 40 songs at work this week, and this one never fails to shake me free of that awful day job trance.

Cosmik Debris

Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe is required listening for me on road trips. It’s like a short vacation inside Robert Crumb’s head. You’ve got huskies whizzing in the snow, fur trappers beating up baby seals, St. Alphonzo serving up pancakes, and, well, Nanook.

January Mix

A mellow, folk mix involving Bjork, Sam Phillips, Beck, and The Story.

Death or Glory

Part of my excitement came from my having misheard the lyrics. I could have sworn that the gravel voice was screaming, “Fuck the casbar! Fuck the casbar!”

Already Dead

Further (anecdotal) evidence that the record companies are pointing their fingers in the wrong direction: Sea Change is the first Beck album I have purchased, and I never would have done so had I not first listened to it via a file-sharing service. (By the way, Tom Petty also has a beef or two with […]

It’s Alright, Baby

I found this song of the moment, “It’s Alright, Baby” by Komeda, on the Gilmore Girls soundtrack. It’ is Euro-retro-pop at its most infectious. Just a fantastic song.

Bathsheeba Smiles

I’m on a quest for the perfect pop song. “Bathsheba Smiles” isn’t quite perfect, but it comes awfully darn close: an infectious melody, a sing-along chorus, a simple chord progression, and a sweet lyric. Heck, you could almost dance to it.

Chocolate City

And when they come to march on ya / Tell ’em to make sure they got their James Brown pass / And don’t be surprised if Ali is in the White House

Grace, Too

It’s something about that bass line and the way that Gord Downie unleashes the line, “Armed with will and determination / And grace, too,” that rips me up.