Jul 10, 2010

new music

When I was in undergrad I spent a lot of my time discovering new music from the soundtracks being played in retail stores.  Often I would hound the people working to help me discover what song I was listening to.  In many cases the people working there were the ones who chose the songs so it was easy to find out who the bands were.  Certain stores always seemed to play really good music and I picked up a lot of new bands that way.  So many songs in fact that I ended up becoming good friends with many of these people.  And in turn I ended up consolidating much of this music onto mixtapes that I then distributed to these same stores.  There was a time when I must have been servicing over 40 stores in the Minneapolis area.  And often I would walk into a store to have my tapes playing.  If I was smart I could have turned this into a business.

Music discovery for me is still one of the most exciting and frustrating experiences.  Well actually it was.  The first iPhone app I ever installed, and the one that continues to get regular use, is the Shazam app which can sample any song playing and tell who it is.  A complete revelation for a music junkie like myself.  Pure magic.  Pixie dust and all that.

At some point I realized I was going to be loading up on tons of music this way.  So what I decided is that I would wait until some time in the future and consolidate all the songs into one mixtape.  Actually it became a playlist.  This is the 21st century after all.  What the hell is a tape?  Tonight I spent a few hours downloading and setting up the playlist on my Sonos system.  In the interest of distributing some of this music like I did before I'll get into what was on my playlist.

But I also learned a couple things along the way.
  1. I don't think it can be said that I like a few musical genres.  The list of songs is all over the place.
  2. I own far too much music. So much that I forget what I already have. There are quite a few songs that were tagged in Shazam that I already own.
  3. Some songs are difficult to remember because it doesn't seem possible it could come from the artist who performs it.  Got To Give It Up by Marvin Gaye is this very song.  I tagged it 4 (four!) times. And when I heard it at a party recently I tagged it for a 5th time.  I also then asked everyone who it was and no one knew.  When I told them it was Marvin Gaye there was disbelief.
  4. As much as I'd like to deny it I do like some popular music and cheesy stuff.
  5. I'm so removed from popular culture that I have to refer to my wife's laughs (scoffs?) to know if something I like is a top 40 hit.  I just have no clue if these are well known tunes or not.
  • The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition.  Oh you have to listen to this one.  Who in God's name do these guys sound like?  It's maddening.  Arggghhh!  The guitar has U2 written all over it.  But the vocals are something else.  Ocean Blue?  Icicleworks? [Update:  I think it's a blend of When in Rome, Big Country, Dream Academy, and Icicleworks.]
  • Timbaland - Apologize.  Song number one that I would have never even ventured a listen to.  Even I know this must be popular.  Even I have heard of this guy.
  • Metric - Help I'm Alive. Boy this is a great song.  Shades of Ladytron and Pixies.
  • Marvin Gaye - Got To Give It Up.  Great song with a more danceable groove than most of his stuff.
  • Ulrich Schnauss - Wherever You Are.  I already owned this double album.  My defense is electronica can be tough to identify sometimes.
  • Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.  I've never really liked their music but this one caught my ear apparently.  Listening to it now it doesn't seem that great.  I'll give it some more time.
  • MGMT - Kids.  I love this song.  I might have to check out the whole album.  Brooklyn Boys with a sound like a mix of The Knife and Peter, Bjorn, and John.
  • Muse - Resistance.  Total cheese.  Epic cheese in fact.  But if you are going to do cheese, at least do it epically.
  • The Black Eyed Peas - Boom Boom Pow.  My wife laughed as this one came on.  Not a band I would give the time of day.  But this song has some of the appeal that a Pump Up the Volume had by M/A/R/R/S.  It's a great stripped down rhythmic song.
  • Kevin Rudolf - Let It Rock.  My wife laughed at this one too.  Apparently it's popular.  I can see that.  It's a bit fluffy but it has a great chorus and the guys voice is interesting.
  • The Bravery - Slow Poison.  This band does 80s music better than most 80s bands.  They picked up where The Cure has fallen down.  And in some ways do it better than The Cure.  Think The Killers with a bit of The Smiths and U2.  Or maybe it should be The U2 given those other band names.
  • Thievery Corporation - Revolution Solution.  The best thing Perry Farrrell has done since the last Janes Addiction album.  He does vocals on the song in case you are confused.
  • Tegan and Sara - Hell.  I know nothing about this band and I can't think of anyone they sound like and they are not terribly distinctive.  It's just a good driving, hi-tempo rock sound.
  • Phoenix - 1901.  When I bought their first album it almost bordered on too cheesy.  They've actually matured quite a bit since that first album.  But they still have their catchy hooks and melodies.
  • Miike Snow - Animal.  This is my favorite song of the whole list.  The singer is a dead ringer for Peter Gabriel and there is a touch of Kate Bush too (not surprisingly since she's kind of like Peter Gabriel).  And they've done something strange with the audio and when it's on it sounds like my wife is singing along to the song.  It's wild.  I keep looking over at my wife to make sure she isn't actually singing.  Buy this song!!
  • The Swell Season - The Rain.  Folk music with a polish.  It's nothing too special.  Just a nice, well put together song.
  • Georgie Fame - Yeh Yeh.  I used to hear this song when I was little.  It's sung by a famous English singer but it's actually a Latin soul number.  Georgie obviously, being English, takes most of the soul out but makes it poppier.
  • Escape - Rupert Holmes.  Admit it.  You have no idea what this song is do you?  No friggin idea. Let me give you a hint.  The Pina Colada song.  Know you now.
  • Muse - Knights of Cydonia.  Quite frankly hours of trying to master this song on Guitar Hero has made me like this song.  More epic cheese.
  • Muse - Uprising.  I heard this a lot out in San Fran.  It's amazing how this band can walk the line of cheese and epicness so well.  I mean it's just almost on the verge of being too much of one or the other.  But they always hold it together.  Mean tightrope walkers, these guys are.
  • Ladytron - Tomorrow.  Already owned this album and love the band.  This is a great song.
  • Broadcast - Before We Begin.  This is the most remarkable song of the bunch.  It's just otherworldly and should be in a David Lynch movie.  It's just a stunning piece of work.  So simple and fragile and modern and antique.  If you told me this was made by a French 60's band who were way ahead of their time I would say, "Yes!" And you know what?  Who else is a French 60's band way ahead of their time.  If you said Stereolab you get 10 points.  And sure enough Broadcast was on Stereolab's label.  Awesome.
  • The Lovemakers - Dance.  Electropop out of Oakland.  These guys are seriously channelling Alphaville and Human League.
  • Metronomy - Heartbreaker.  Award for the weirdest song.  In my head this is being sung by a black buy from London.  The guy is white and from Devon of all places.  I get cognitive dissonance in my head from this song and I love it.
  • Green Day - 21 Guns.  I sort of like Green Day but I think this song is one of their better ones.
  • Bobby Womack - Across 110th Street.  Ohhhhhhhhh yea baby.  You might recognize this one from Jackie Brown.  Good NY soul.  This one kicks.
  • Just Jack - No Time.  I know nothing about this guy.  Clever catchy dance music from England.
  • Coldplay - Lovers in Japan.  I just love the opening.  I would rather the first 10 seconds just loop for 10 minutes.  The rest of the song is okay but way way too U2-ish.  Aren't they embarrassed to put out something this cloned?
  • Duffy - Mercy.  Think Amy Winehouse without the crack cocaine.
  • The Apples in Stereo - Energy.  Folky "I'm happy with the world" kind of ditty.
  • Neko Case - Hold On.  Her best song by far.  She can be a bit annoying when she's not tamed by The New Pornographers.  But this one is good.
  • The Gap Band - Outstanding.  Yeah baby.  Ohh yea.
  • Mary Jane Girls - All Night Long.  This is actually a really tight song.  And whoever is playing bass is kicking it.  The whole song rides on the bass.  I knew who this band was from the 80s (Rick James proteges) but I don't think I had ever heard one of their songs.
  • Marvin Gaye - I Want You.  Marvin's kicking it on this list.  Two times.  This is just remarkably clever music.  If you really listen to all the sounds and instruments it intensely complex.

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