Friday, March 03, 2006

Random Rules: The Ripoff

The Onion's A.V. Club has an occasional feature called Random Rules, where they ask someone famous (or moderately famous, anyway) to set their iPod to shuffle and write something about each song -- "No faking us out with cool playlists or skipping embarrassing tracks is allowed, so you, the reader, will be given access into the uncensored, private world of someone else's music library."

Since I'll never be asked, I decided I'd try it for myself anyway. So here goes a real-time attempt with my iTunes ...

The Black Keys, "Thickfreakness" - I would say that the title just about says it all for this song -- thick and chunky. Basically a blues progression, with a couple of solo breaks and a fuzzy vocal over the top. Very good and greasy.

Jill Scott, "Do You Remember" - Speaking of thick and chunky, a zaftig, distaff D'Angelo. Soul music with a hip-hop syncopation. Jill takes it down memory lane, remembering her lover as a youngster in his new kicks playing "hide-and-go-freak" back onthe streets of Philly. Beautiful soul for the new century.

Billy Bragg, "Wishing The Days Away" - Your fav Brit busker, as always with a bit of politics mixed in with a bit of romance. Always made me wonder why so many Brits followed the Beatles and sang with an American accent.

The The, "Gravitate To Me" - From one of the seriously underrated albums ever, "Mind Bomb." Johnny Marr played some guitar on this one, but the band was only ever Matt Johnson. Full of compressed snares sounding like bombs, Tristan and Isolde in a pop song (8-minute version) -- "I am the lighthouse, I am the sea, I am your destiny, gravitate to me."

Julian Cope, "Hanging Out and Hung Up On The Line" - Another great record from around 1990. Julian split from The Teardop Explodes and made a set of great solo records through the '80s and into the '90s. Full of weird Druid/Celtic ideas and imagery, Peggy Suicide was ahead of its time in forecasting the planet's doom.

Travis - "Slide Show" - The first of many, many bands to apparently be born while listening to The Bends. This is the closer to the album, and it does not endear. Besides starting with a stone rip-off of "Love Is The Drug," the song includes a maddening three-minute deadspot at the end of the song before coming back with a hidden track. I hate that crap. The worst was when Korn had an album that opened with 15 empty tracks, each about 5 seconds long. What was the point of that? To punish us for playing the album on shuffle? Thanks.

Sebadoh, "Beauty Of The Ride" - A Barlow song from Harmacy. A bit amped-up for the genre at the time, but very recognizable, nonetheless. Guy with his heart on his sleeve at all times, and given his roots you've got to appreciate the thought.

Aimee Mann, "The Other End (Of The Telescope)" - I've never been 100% on-board the Aimee Mann bandwagon, although I know folks who just swear by her. Never gave that much thought to her until her songs wound up as the lion's share of the music on Magnolia. One of the problems with listening to music in the iPod era is that it's not often that you wind up listening to stuff over and over and over, so you wind up paying more attention to tunes and less to lyrics (since you usually don't get to hear them enough to know what's being talked about anyway). That really doesn't help in the Aimee Mann appreciation department.

The Magnetic Fields, "Boa Constrictor" - A 58-second long song, so a real time description's not going to say much. Nicely acerbic, though. Love is like a giant snake around your neck, sometimes.

Was (Not Was), "Zaz Turned Blue" - A nice closer to the exercise. Was (Not Was)' -- is that the possessive of the name? No idea -- second album was a oddball collection of guest vocal turns. There was Ozzy, the singer from The Knack, Mitch Ryder, and on this one Mel Torme. The Velvet Fog gently croons a tale of a good life gone suddenly bad when Zaz "let Steve Brown fool around" and choke him nearly to death one tragic night in the park. After that, nothing was ever quite the same for Zaz, who wears a silly grin on his chin to this day.


Post a Comment

<< Home