Monday, January 26, 2009

The Working Dead: A to Zed

The importance of music in my life is hard to overestimate; nearly every moment of my life is done to my own personal soundtrack. I listen to music on my walk to work, on my walk home, on break, I have CDs spinning while I'm online, or cleaning the house, or giving my daughter a bath, and I fall asleep to some songs that are usually, but not always, soothing. It's been this way my entire adult life, from the moment I first began to formulate my own tastes outside of what my Mom liked, or what the radio played. I got my first CD player when I turned 16, but I had already been buying CDs, making dubs to tape at a friends house and eagerly awaiting my birthday. From there I was hooked. I piggybacked on the BMG Music Club memberships of friends and relatives, and scoured used shops and new releases every time I got a few bucks. When I got my first job, a good half of each paycheck would go to music.

Over the years my collection has fluctuated a bit, but it's constantly growing ever bigger. Occasionally I'll decide I've outgrown something and either sell it or pass it along, but those moments are growing more and more infrequent. Of the 4 discs I bought from BMG in the days before my CD player, I think I only have one left, although nostalgia may lead me to one day rebuy them(for the curious, the discs were REM; Automatic for the People, Dire Straits; Brothers in Arms, The B-52s; Good Stuff, and the Waynes World Soundtrack, I only retained the REM album). My tastes are varied, if you name a genre I can name at least three bands I like in it, and if I can't, well, then a little bit of research and firsthand experience would lead me to them. My tastes are ever-changing. I'll find some new band(at least, new to me), and become obsessed with that sound for a short time, until the next sound comes along. Those older discs fade away for awhile, but become part of the larger mosaic that is my taste in music. For a few years in a row I would make mix CDs in October, not consciously, but it worked out that way. When I went back and reviewed them I found a bit of crossover in terms of bands, alongside whatever my newest obsessions were, so that each disc seemed like a slowly changing chronicle of my years.

Which is all to say that I like a lot of different styles of music, and I own a lot of it. So much of it that there are some discs I haven't listened to in years. Expecting that I'll listen to every disc in my collection regularly is just unrealistic, even if I was allowed to listen to my iPod at work every day. This has been a problem for awhile, actually, ever since my collection first grew past 100 discs(well over a decade ago). Looking over my collection recently, I realized how much stuff I haven't heard in years, and I've decided to try and rectify that.

My iPod makes this incredibly easy, and I can even track my progress by seeing when the last time I listened to something was. However, since I'm a completist, I'm going to ignore that and listen to EVERYTHING, regardless of how recently I had reviewed it. This isn't a new practice, I've done it several times in the past(though not since exiting my teens), and I know it's one of those things people do occasionally. I'm planning on going through my collection, and although I don't plan on doing any excising from my collection, I do plan on reflecting a bit on why I like a particular disc or band. I've not thought up a schedule for this, so it might be a bit infrequent, but I'm planning on posting my results at least biweekly. Ideally I'll listen to 10 full albums a week(give or take, because when Amber and I are home together I probably wont be sticking to this album-at-a-time formula), and then write about them. Of course we've seen how good I am at keeping a schedule, so I'm giving myself some leeway.

I'm going to be going through my iPod alphabetically, but by album instead of artist. There are two main reasons this appeals to me. 1) I like listening to albums more than singles, so this way I won't be splitting up my compilations or soundtracks that have multiple artists on them. 2) When I can listen to an album by Flogging Molly and follow that up with Mates of State, well, I stand less chance of getting bored, or at least burned out on a band. I have over 20 different albums by The Cure(their studio work, some live recordings, and fan club exclusives from back in the day. I'm a dork, I know), and having to listen to them all in a row may give me a greater appreciation of their musical evolution, but they also run the risk of running together on me.

I might not have something to say about every album I review, but for those interested(and if you are, really, what's wrong with you?), I'll be listing the albums I listened to at the end of the various posts. I'm also cutting this a bit short, since I'm using up space with introductions, and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.

A-Haunting We Will Go-Go; The Ghastly Ones: I can't actually remember the exact moment I first heard this band, but it would have been in 1998, probably after I had started DJing at the local college station, and definitely after The Red Elvises and Man... Or Astro-Man? had destroyed my shoegazing, self important world and rebuilt it, brick by brick, into something much more open-minded and, well, fun. One of the very few records released by Rob Zombie's Zombie A Go-Go label, and so far the only disc I've heard by these guys. The album tells the story, in between tight surf instrumentals, of the band breaking down one dark night and seeking aide in a spooky old castle inhabited by Dr. Diablo and his evil Robot Atomico. It's not the best example of it's particular 'spooky surf' genre, but it's still an awesomely fun disc, and was one of my first introductions to the world of Surf Music.

The A-Team; Mike Post: Alright, if I was going to start cutting music out of my collection, I have to admit I'd probably start with this one. I'm not a big fan of television incidental music in general, and definitely not of mid-80s incidental music. But what can I say, I'm a big A-Team nerd. I own Mr. T's autobiography, and I love my A-Team t-shirt even though I can't wear it in public due to a washing machine mishap that melted something into the fabric. For awhile I wanted my first car to be a Custom GMC Van. Of course, maybe I just like that van. I love TV shows where the hero(s) drive around the country in a van. But back to this disc. The music is not good at all, but man, Mike Post can write an awesome theme song.

ABBA-Esque; Erasure: Erasure have a couple of really great synth-pop songs that I love listening to frequently, but none is more awesome than their cover of Take A Chance On Me, that only falters in the annoying reggae-ish vocals towards the end.

Absent Friends; The Divine Comedy: The Divine Comedy are one of my very favorite bands, although it took me a short while to appreciate them. I was initially put off by their overbearing romanticism and bourgeoisie pretensions, until I saw them live on TV and realized, it was all part of the joke. Oh, they actually are pretentious and ridiculous, but lead singer Neil Hannon at least recognizes this and delivers almost every line with the smile of a congenial drunk from a movie made in the forties. Absent Friends is currently my favorite album of theirs, although that sometimes changes. They frequently cause me to reevaluate every previous album whenever they release a new one, and I somehow end up liking them more each time. With this album, that combines Ennio Morriccone with chamber music and drunken romanticism, they hit a creative peak.

Albums this post: A-Haunting We Will Go-Go; The Ghastly Ones, The A-Team; Mike Post, Abba-esque; Erasure, Absent Friends; The Divine Comedy, Absolution; Muse, Accelerate; R.E.M.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Facebook Games = Digital Herpes

This appears to be one of those games making it's way through Facebook, and that's where I came across it, even if it was actually in a link to my friend Rik's blog. Here's the rules:

Step 1: Put your music player on shuffle.
Step 2: Post the first line (unless the first line reveals the song title) from the first 30 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing.
Step 3: Strike through the songs when someone guesses both artist and track correctly.
Step 4: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING!
Step 5: If you like the game post your own!
Step 6: Make a new one... only after all 30 have been guessed

A couple of notes: It actually took me over 60 songs before I got a full 30, and not because of judicious skipping. I have a large collection of soundtracks and surf, and my ipod seemed to want to play those today. Also, I skipped any song that was in a foreign language, for a couple obvious reasons. A larger number of songs than I would have guessed have the title in the first line, so those were skipped as well. I also went further than just the first line, and basically used, in most cases, the first verse, to give greater context. There are a bunch of cover songs, and a few songs made famous by multiple people, in there, so if someone guesses the correct song but not the correct singer I'll still count it as a correct guess.

Now, without further ado, thirty random lyrics!

#1: Waitin', watchin' the clock, its four o'clock, its got to stop/ Tell him, take no more, she practices her speech

#2: Raise your glasses please into a toast/For we are many hometown ghosts./Let it spill all over the floor./What the hell are you saving it for?

#3: And you don't seem to understand/ a shame you seemed an honest man/ and all the things you hold so dear/ will turn to whisper in your ear

#4: What are you staring at/ in that hospital bed/ let me explain...

#5: Relax, you're quite safe here/ Am I dreaming, no/ Where am I, in bed/ Well, what am I doing/
Oh, t-t-t-t-talking to myself

#6: Now and then I get horny/ at night you do, at night you do/ Smile from side to side/ At night you do, at night you do

#7: We dig TV we dig remote control/ We dig the Furry Freak Brothers and the Twilight Zone/ We dig Marvel and D.C., we dig Run-DMC/ We dig Renegade Soundwave and AC/DC

#8: There's a nail in the door And there's glass on the lawn/ Tacks on the floor
And the TV is on/ And I always sleep with my guns when you're gone

#9: Walter, remember when the world was young And all the girls knew Walter's name/ Walter, isn't it a shame the way our little world has changed?

#10: Can you tell me why the bells are ringing/ Nothing's happened in a million years/ I've been sitting here since wednesday morning/ Wednesday morning can't believe my ears

#11: nothing ever gets in my way/ nothing ever gets on my mind/ nothing ever makes me stop to think about/ nothing of the kind

#12: Take away the sensation inside/ Bitter sweet migraine in my head/ Its like a throbbing toothache of the mind/ I can't take this feeling anymore

#13: And Abraham Lincoln town cars arive to dispose of our king and queen/ and They orchestrated dramatic new scenes....for celebration needs/ When one world ends something else begins/ but without a scream/ Just a whisper because we just started it over again

#14: Still don't know what I was waiting for/ And my time was running wild/ A million dead-end streets and/ Every time I thought I'd got it made/ It seemed the taste was not so sweet

#15: Too hard on the brakes again/ What if these brakes just give in?/ What if the car loses control?/ What if there's someone overtaking?

#16: Midnight, our sons and daughters/ Were cut down and taken from us/ Hear their heartbeats/ We hear their heartbeats/ In the wind we hear their laughters/ In the rain we see their tears/ Hear their heartbeats/ We hear their heartbeats

#17: I've got you/ You've got whatever's left of me to get/Our conversations are like minefields/ No one's found a safe way through one yet

#18: The bitch is getting ready to make my life unsteady./ I don't care, I just want a surprise.

#19: Those schoolgirl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone/ But in my mind/ I know they will still live on and on

#20: wait for... everything evil in you comes out/ i'll stay when we'll only motivate sound instead

#21: Fire burned and blew out flowers/ Showing me its comely powers/ Still and all it would be hours/ Before I would get burned

#22: wherever I go/ I take a little piece of you/ I collect/ I reject/ photographs I took of you

#23: The secret rulers of the world/ Have stolen my girl/ The whisked her away in a black limousine/ And that was the last of her I'd ever see

#24: You gave up right away/ Never too tough to care/ You give a brighter way/ Never too notice her

#25: This is not love/ This is not even worth a point of view/ In Echo Park/ I pause for effect and whisper 'who are you?'

#26: Dark in the city night is a wire/ Steam in the subway earth is afire/ Do do do do do do do dodo dododo dodo

#27: I buried him down by the river/ cause thats where he liked to be/ And every night when the moon is high/ I go there and weep openly

#28: The lights go out and I can't be saved/ Tides that I tried to swim against/ Have brought me down upon my knees/ Oh I beg, I beg and plead singin...

#29: I got a pocket full of quarters, and I'm headed to the arcade./ I don't have a lot of money, but I'm bringing ev'rything I made./ I've got a callus on my finger, and my shoulder's hurting too./ I'm gonna eat them all up, just as soon as they turn blue.

#30: Hey Yo doctor, here's another proper track/ and it's phat, watch the sniper, time to pay the piper/ and let that real shit provoke, so you's a wanna be 'loc/ and you'll get smoked and i hope that yer fans understand/ when ya talk about sprayin me, the same records that ya makin' is payin' me/ Motherfuck Dre/ Motherfuck Snoop/ Motherfuck Death Row/ yo and here comes my left blow