Erin McKeown

Also, this album, a live version of which was given to me by NoiseTrade, was apparently released in February 2013. Damn, narrowing my list down to 50 songs released within the calendar year is proving to be harder than I thought.

The live version, titled Civics, was recorded in one take in an old library. It’s so raw and powerful, this song ranked high in my favorite songs that I heard this year…

Hiss Golden Messenger

I just found out that this song was originally released in 2010, with the album being re-released in 2014 with 3 extra tracks…which means that I’m taking it out of competition for my 50 best songs of 2014.

It’s a shame, because it’s actually a good song.

Winding down the year

I just finished narrowing my list of songs I’ve liked this year down to a Top 90. I’ve got about 3 weeks left of finding songs before I deliver a Top 50 of 2014, but it’s already been a rough process. I mean, I’ve still got music from Primus, a Paul McCartney tribute album, a new song from David Bowie, a covers album put out by She & Him, a new album from Marianne Faithfull, etc that I’ve not heard…this list of 90 may not be the end…

Light the Match

I first heard about Mirah when I borrowed a DVD of Burn to Shine- Portland. Burn to Shine is a video series that takes a condemned building, has a bunch of local artists play in the building, and then a professional crew burns the building down.
Mirah is signed to K Records out of Olympia and has several albums out.
Still, the first song I heard by her is my favorite.

Cover songs: Little Boxes

Malvina Reynolds was a folk singer in the early 1960s. She wrote protest songs about several issues including nuclear fallout, civil rights and depression (small d, not big D). As far as I’m concerned though, her masterstroke was and shall always be Little Boxes.
The simplicity of the lyrics, the bouncing flow of the tune, and the fact that it’s all over in about 2 minutes is what makes it a classic of all time. In 2 minutes, she encapsulates the idea that life perpetuates itself and people can only change something if there is a desire for change. Those who are told to follow the path will rarely stray.

In an entire different generation, this song was used as the them song for the Showtime drama Weeds. Season one used Reynolds’ version, but later seasons had several different artists record cover versions. My two favorites are Death Cab for Cutie and Rise Against.

Make you Butter

This is all over the internets right now, but I had to share. The Decemberists have a new album coming out on January 20th (the same day as another little Portland act, Sleater-Kinney), and they just released the first official music video to promote their upcoming album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.

The video purports to be “found footage” of the band on a 1977 German talk show. The person conducting the interview thinks that the song “Make You Better” is titled “Make You Butter”.
This video should easily be a contender for Video of the Year, if that’s even still a thing anymore…

The repayment of a cover song, 7 years after the fact

The Ramones and Tom Waits may sound like strange bedfellows, but in 1995, The Ramones covered I Don’t Wanna Grow up on their album Adios Amigos, a track from Waits’ 1992 album Bone Machine.

Waits was apparently so flattered by the fact that The Ramones wanted to cover one of his songs, when he was asked by Johnny Ramone if he wanted to contribute a track to a Ramones Tribute album, he jumped at the chance. The result was The Return of Jackie and Judy, originally from the 1980 album End of the Century.

Tom Waits’ version was released in 2003 along with covers by acts as diverse as Garbage, Kiss, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rob Zombie, U2 and The Pretenders. The liner notes were written by Stephen King, a Ramones fan, who had The Ramones appear on the soundtrack to Pet Semetary singing a track inspired by the events of the novel.

This song is one of the 6 songs in my iTunes that has the genre listed as Punk as Fuck.

An old argument

In 2005, Fiona Apple was set to release her 3rd album, Extraordinary Machine, when the label hired somebody to re-edit the entire album. The result, while still Fiona Apple and her piano, is a more “rock record”. That does not mean, however, that none of the original edits have leaked.

In fact, the radio station to which I used to listen provided several tracks to their mailing list. I sill have two of them, and perhaps it’s because I heard them first, but i like them better than the album versions.

One example is the track This is Not About Love, which has an excellent video of Apple and Zach Galifianakis as a couple fighting while mouthing the lyrics to the song.

Now, it’s a fine track in it’s own life, but I think the string section adds a bit to the track that’s missing from the officially released album version.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Now we are one year old

I started this blog one year ago today at the behest of a co-worker who was always listening to me talk about music. One year later, I still don’t know what I have, but I’ve so far enjoyed talking about obscure or newly discovered songs, reviewing albums, and relating my life to the world at large through references to music.
Even if I only have a few regulars, I enjoy doing this. My girlfriend probably enjoys the fact that I’m not always telling her drivel about new musical information. I’ve had 337 (including this one) posts in the last year. Here’s’ to many more years of me not running out of things to talk about!

The Roots

For the last few years, Philadelphia’s The Roots have been the house band for Jimmy Fallon. Time and again they’ve shown their musical diversity. Just last night, they filled in for U2, backing Jimmy on “Desire”.

Earlier this year, they released the amazing album …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin, which features the song “When The People Cheer”.

Several years ago, they backed Jay-Z on an episode of MTV unplugged. Yes, rap music landed on the Unplugged set.

Jimmy Fallon says at the beginning of the first video that he’s got the best band in the world as the house band, and although I wouldn’t say “best”, they’re certainly the most versatile.