song_a_day_mojo Week 2 Throwdown

Poll #885428 song_a_day_mojo Throwdown, Week 2

Week two has come to an end, and it's time to Throwdown! Steely Dan's "Peg" won the first week's battle by the narrowest of margins. Which of this week's picks do you think should join it? Get your vote on now!

Junior Boys' "In The Morning"
0(0.0%)
The Smiths' "Stretch Out And Wait"
1(25.0%)
Ghostface's "Biscuits"
1(25.0%)
Tom Waits' "Step Right Up"
0(0.0%)
Tom Waits' "Clap Hands"
2(50.0%)

Tom Waits' "Step Right Up" and "Clap Hands"

So it happened. I missed a day. In my defense, it was a day where I spent 15 hours at work without so much as a bathroom break, but still. So to make up for yesterday's absence, I present a two pack from one of my favorite artists of all time. Ladies and gentlemen, I present...


Tom Waits' "Step Right Up" and "Clap Hands"

"Step Right Up" was my introduction to Tom Waits. There was a wonderfully lazy period in my life before I moved to LA where every Saturday was spent with my friends Jeff, Dave, Tim, and Joe playing video games, eating Thunderbird Burgers, and listening to music. Many of the artists I listen to now were discovered in the living room of the 650 house, and it was there that I first heard Wait's iconic growl and bark. I was immediately enthralled by "Step Right Up". The lyrical flow, the perfect rasp of Tom's voice, the vaudeville feel of the whole thing. Every sales pitch you have every heard rolled up into a string the best carnival barker would envy. There was just something about the way Waits presented himself on the album that I had never heard before. There is no doubt that his music could be considered a kind of an acquired taste, often riding the line between brilliance and bizarre, but I was immediately fascinated and couldn't stop listening.

"Clap Hands" was the track that vaulted Waits from a fascination to one of my favorite musicians of all time. The instruments, the vocals, the rhythms. There is something so pure about Wait's music. Songs that come from some dark, drunken alley that you can't help but wander down. Each of his songs creates an atmosphere you can visualize. I have always wanted to write a scene for "Clap Hands", to take its hollow rhythms and choreograph an entire story motivated my it's movements. It is a truly original, haunting, and amazing track.

I remember talking to one of my uncles about John Lennon. He was telling me how fascinated he had become with Lennon's music, and how, even though Lennon wasn't his favorite musician, his music had changed his whole outlook on art. I think that Tom Waits is my John Lennon. He has had a profound effect on me and the way I listen to music.





Be sure to check out what Glenn, Rachael, Niveous, Andy, and Heuristics Inc chose for today.

Ghostface's "Biscuits"


Ghostface's "Biscuits"

I had a totally different song in mind for today, but then I got into the office and started listening to the Wu-Tang. No matter what I listened to afterwords, I had Ghostface's flow stuck in my head, so my listening went from it's normal, whiny, curl up in a ball indie rotation to all Pretty Toney all the time.

I am a huge fan of good sampling. When a producer nails a hook it is electrifying. The beats get the head bobbing while the loops pull you into the song. Ghostface always has mind blowing hooks. Tracks that make you move along with them even without you noticing. They are groves that you feel as much as you hear, and I have absolute an absolute respect for those that can take existing elements and give them a life of their own. "Biscuits" hooks are damn close to perfect, especially when Ghostface lays his flow over them.

The thing about Ghostface that I have always respected is how tight his flow is without sacrificing any of his own character. I have always believed that the best MCs are the ones who know that the flow is as much a compliment to the hook as the hook is to the flow. I feel that Ghostface completely understands this, not trying to overshadow the instruments, but to make them pop even louder with his style and vocal breakdown. Obviously the message is in the lyrics, but he knows that the hooks will further his words if he works with them, not against them. You never feel like he is rapping just to rap, but doing it to create a complete musical experience. The flow, the lyrics, the beat, the hooks, each one spot on in complimenting the other.

Anyone who still thinks hip-hop is not a "musical" art form need only listen to the complexities and skill in "Biscuits" to be proved wrong.





Be sure to check out what Glenn, Rachael, Niveous, Andy, and Heuristics Inc chose for today.

The Smith's "Stretch Out And Wait"


The Smith's "Stretch Out And Wait"

It is almost impossible for me to choose just one Smith's song to write about. They have been my favorite band since the end of my freshman year of college, and I honestly believe that they will be my favorite band for as long as I can imagine. Over my lifetime I have had several "favorite" bands. Van Halen, Pink Floyd, R.E.M., The Dave Matthews Band... at one point I could truly say each of these was a favorite, but they were all bands I grew out of after a while. Sure, I still love a lot of their music, but to call any of them a favorite now would be a misstatement. I connected very quickly with The Smiths, and have continued to do so throughout my adult life. The combination of their genuine poppy bounce and full on curl in a ball and rock yourself to sleep in the corner misery appeals to me in ways that few other artists can. Only Elliott Smith has come close to speaking to me in the ways that The Smith's music does, but he is the topic of a whole separate section unto himself.

There are hundreds of songs I could have chosen as my first Smiths post. Songs that through meaning, association, and sheer brilliance have taken up a very personal tie with me. Songs that almost anyone could recognize by title alone. But I have chosen a song that is not as frequently celebrated as "William, It Was Really Nothing" or "Girlfriend In A Coma" or "Cemetery Gates". It is a track that, from a band notorious for recycling songs on several albums, only appears on one... and it isn't even a "proper" album (Louder Than Bombs is a compilation). Yet for all it's being overshadowed, "Stretch Out And Wait" contains some of Morrissey's sweetest and most visual lyrics, and a tender genuineness that is hard not to fall in love with. It's instruments are almost symphonic, creating a soft bed for Moz's familiar croon. Paired with "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" and "Asleep", both of which are also found on the final side of Louder Than Bombs, the Smiths have created the perfect trilogy of alternative lullabies.

I guarantee you will hear a lot more Smiths from me. But I figure that this is as good a starting place as any other.





Be sure to check out what Glenn, Rachael, Niveous, Andy, and Heuristics Inc chose for today.

Junior Boys' "In The Morning"

Just to clarify, my Song-A-Day project is designed to be a Monday through Friday endeavor. Saturday's will find the weekly Throwdown poll posted, in which you the reader can voice your opinion as to which of my weekly picks was your favorite. Sunday the theater sits dark. The first week was a lot of fun and I can't wait to keep on going, so with that in mind I proudly present...


Junior Boys' "In The Morning"

There are certain sounds that I am a complete sucker for. Arpegiation in a minor key is a huge one. So are xylophone/vibraphone/bell sounds (both synthesized and real). Add to that rhythmic guitar parts that primarily consist of only 2 notes (I don't know how to describe that any better) and a solid beat that uses breathing and voice as an instrument. My favorite instrumental sound ever is the perfectly played wail of a pedal steel guitar, but that's a damn hard one to pull off.

The pedal steel is the only one fo those that can't be found in "In The Morning". It was as if the Junior Boys said "Hey, what do you think would make that Chris guy totally fucking love our song.", and then they did it.

I was first introduced to Junior Boys by one of my roommates who is big into what he calls "dance music for white people". After one listen to their first album "Last Exit", I was sold. Their new album "So This Is Goodbye" is a serious contender for my best albums of 2006 list, with "In The Morning" leading a charge on my best songs list. They are talented and fun as hell to listen to, embodying all of what is good about electronic music without embracing the cliches.





Be sure to check out what Glenn, Rachael, Niveous, Andy, and Heuristics Inc chose for today.

song_a_day_mojo Week 1 Throwdown

Poll #880325 song_a_day_mojo Throwdown, Week 1

Throwdown time! Which of this week's song_a_day_mojo chioces is your favorite? The winner will move on to a future Throwdown in it's quest for the title of People's Champion of Awesome Songs.

Paul Simon's "Graceland"
1(16.7%)
The Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored"
1(16.7%)
Steely Dan's "Peg"
2(33.3%)
Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945"
1(16.7%)
Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"
1(16.7%)

Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"


Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"

I remember my dad telling me that the best written music is one where each instrument has it's own voice. Each instrument is played to it's strengths and weaknesses, with parts that exemplify the sound of that specific instrument. The thing he said that most stuck with me is that each part should be like a little melody. All of the parts could be played separately and maintain their interest and integrity, yet when played together each one's line perfectly compliments the others. That was when I realized how difficult the art of composition was.

Naive Melody is a perfect example of his theory.

Each instrument could play along, even the repetitive bass and guitar lines, and maintain interest. Yet when combined these pieces pull together to form a rich and complex synth pop masterpiece. Each riff is masterfully crafted, pulling it's own weight forward in the song while complimenting all the other notes and patterns present at any given time. the end result is a beautiful tapestry of sounds, rhythms, and voices. It easily goes on my favorite songs of all time list, and is a strong contender, in my mind, for the title of greatest song every written.

The Talking Heads truly seemed to have a gift for understand music. Their compositions, both ridiculously simple and compellingly intricate (often at the same time) display a level of mastery and creativity achieved by few in the music industry . Their catalog contains more unbelievable tracks that I can even name, and every time I put on a Heads record I find I new song I hadn't given due attention to before.




Be sure to check out what Glenn, Rachael, Niveous, Andy, and Heuristics Inc chose for today.

Neutral Milk Hotels "Holland, 1945"


Neutral Milk Hotel's "Holland, 1945"

...2, 1, 2, 3, 4

There's something about a great horn section in a rock song that gets me every time. It's hard to pull off, balancing the abrasive sound of the brass with all of the other instruments, and if done wrong I think it sounds terrible. There are few better examples of the perfect marriage between rock and brass than "Holland, 1945"

It's a song that fits many moods. It all at once happy and angry and ruckus and sentimental. I have played it as often on shitty days as I have on great ones, and it's relevance never seems to wane. It is a song that I am always happy to hear.




Be sure to check out what Glenn, Rachael, Niveous, Andy, and Heuristics Inc chose for today.

Steely Dan's "Peg"


Steely Dan's "Peg"

This is the definition of a "Hell yeah!" song. One of those songs that comes on at a club, or in your car, or over the speakers at a department store, and makes you nod to your self and say "Hell yeah!". From that point on, everything you do has a little bounce. Your walk moves to the beat. Your head nods side to side. Every action you take just has a little more energy. It's hard to be upset when Peg is playing.

I remember loving the sample from Peg when I heard it in De La Soul's "Eye Know" back in the day, though I had no idea where it came from. I searched high and low for it, but could never find it's source. Then one day in a record store Peg came on and I had a "Hell yeah!" moment. I ran to the register to ask what album he was playing. He looked at me with condescending sympathy. This poor poor boy, having a "Hell yeah!" moment and not even knowing it was Steely Dan who was bringing it to him. I bought the record immediately.

I have often wondered who Peg is about. I'm sure that the answer to that is one of those well known pieces of rock and roll trivia, and that just by mentioning my ignorance I am seperating myself from the musical elite. I suppose you can add that to the fact that it took me years to figure out where the De La Soul sample came from, a deduce that just because someone has a passion for music, it doesn't mean thair smart about it... though you'll never get me to admit that in public again.




Be sure to check out what Glenn, Rachael, Niveous, Andy, and Heuristics Inc chose for today.

The Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored"


The Stone Roses' "I Wanna Be Adored"

I'm not the type of person who can easily identify my favorite song of all time. I tend to get pretty wrapped up by songs, and the answer varies depending on my mood, situation, or taste at any given moment. Obviously, I have a stable of songs that always make the list. Tracks that I tend to gravitate to no matter what is happening in my life. Of all the music I love, I think I can honestly say that "I Wanna Be Adored" has sat at number one more times than any other song.

I had heard "I Wanna Be Adored" many times over the years, but it really wasn't until around 2001 that my love affair with it truly began. I used to frequent the brit pop/indie rock dance night at a bar called the Snake Pit in Denver with several of my close friends. We would sit and drink John Courage and listen to Blur and The Smiths and New Order, and watch all bad white kid dancing that is usually associated with these bands. I am not much of a dancer, but get a few pints into me and I can be convinced. Every single night, it was "I Wanna Be Adored" that convinced me. That familiar bass line would come on (arguably the greatest bass line ever written), and by the time that iconic snare drum hits twice I would be on my feet, dancing badly will all the other kids. This would usually last the rest of the night.

I don't know exactly what it is about this song that so thoroughly engrosses me. The perfect instrumental and vocal interplay. The fact that a melancholy song can be so danceable. Or perhaps the fact that the lyrics speak so perfectly to my deceptively fragile ego. Whatever it is, it has a strong hold on me, and I imagine that it always will.





Be sure to check out what Glenn, Rachael, Niveous, Andy, and Heuristics Inc chose for today.