It’s time for the second installment of what I’ve been listening to. As a special treat this week, I’ll put my favorite line(s) from a few of these songs’ lyrics with my musings, cause I think this week’s batch deserves it. Here goes!
1. Broadripple Is Burning 4:35 Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s
Lyric: And if my woman was a fire / She’d burn out before I wake / And be replaced by pints of whiskey / Cigarettes and outer space
This band has been my favorite group for a little over 3 years now. When a friend introduced their EP to me upon its arrival at the college radio station I worked at, I was eagerly anticipating their first full-length. What I got was the beautifully arranged but somehow spontaneous debut LP Dust of Retreat. From there, I was smitten.
This track – from Not Animal, one of two full-lengths released late last year as a result of a dispute with Epic, their label – is undoubtedly my favorite by Richard Edwards and co. at the moment, and is a contrast of sorts to the song that ends this mix (scroll down if you can’t wait to see the title!). I have seen MNSS four times live, including once when I met them after a show in Athens, OH. What I found out is that they are cool people in addition to being fabulous musicians. That’s always nice. Enjoy this one.
2. Can You Tell 2:43 Ra Ra Riot
This is such a wonderfully simple tune about having butterflies for someone special but not really knowing what to do about them. It’s from The Rhumb Line, which is a particularly lovely album. And if you have a chance to check out their outdoor performance of another great song, “Dying Is Fine,” on La Blogotheque’s running series, I suggest doing it.
3. Wake Up 5:35 The Arcade Fire
Lyric: If the children don’t grow up / Our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up / We’re just a million little gods causing rainstorms / Turning every good thing to rust
This song has been reinvented as the theme to the trailer for Spike Jonze’s upcoming movie vision of Where The Wild Things Are. I could not be more excited for the movie, and I really adore this song, which is just bursting with truth and beauty.
4. Northern Lights 2:54 Bowerbirds
I first heard this song on XM Radio, and was impressed with its guitar-strummed, piano-plinking goodness. It’s from the band’s latest release Upped Air, and I think you should like it.
5. The Calculation 3:09 Regina Spektor
Lyric: So we made our own computer / Out of macaroni pieces / And it did our thinking while we lived our lives / It counted up our feelings / And divided them up even / And it called that calculation perfect love
While Spektor’s Far, released June 23, was met with mixed reviews, I listened to it for two days straight once I got my hands on it. This song kicks off the fable-laden collection of tunes from the 29-year old singer-songwriter, and I love the lyrical imagery. It seems to me that this song is about kickstarting a stalled relationship, or perhaps a lesson in keeping things fresh with that significant other.
6. Sometimes 3:30 Rhett Miller
Lyric: Every single morning when I hear you in there humming on a brand new tune / If I blink I’ll miss you, honey, all I want’s to kiss you and I want to soon / Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes, the only thing you have is a song / And in these times, in these times, in these lonely, lonely times, I will sing along
I read a review in Rolling Stone that called Miller’s self-titled new album his best one yet. While I’m still partial to 2002’s The Instigator, Rhett Miller is a nice extenstion of the Old 97’s frontman and his catalogue of solo work. The album is sort of divided between – what else? – love and loss, and this song straddles the line, I think.
7. Insomnia 4:13 Electric President
Lyric: And the wind sounds as if the world is sighing / And the moon’s just a torn fingernail
Ben Cooper is a pretty busy guy. Aside from making awesome electronic music with Alex Kane as one half of Electric President, Cooper is also the driving force behind Radical Face (next up here). Beyond the clipped musical sounds, bleeps and blips that make up EP’s stuff, the lyrics are something I always appreciate about this band. This one is off the duo’s self-titled debut, and it’s a bit (stress bit) more upbeat than their sophomore record Sleep Well. This song, predictably, describes a little insomnia angst.
8. Wrapped In Piano Strings 3:37 Radical Face
In this one, when the chorus kicks in with banging percussion and a really pretty piano piece, I’m hooked. And the emotion conveyed by Cooper’s mostly-spoken but tuneful vocals is just powerful.
9. Firecracker 3:44 Voxtrot
I need Voxtrot to release a new album like whoa. After putting out a few shorter-length records, the band unveiled a self-titled LP in 2007. This song received decent airplay. Voxtrot has a really unique sound, which I think is displayed well here. The minute-long buildup to the energetic chorus is totally worth it.
10. I Found Out 3:07 Butterfly Boucher
I Found Out about this song (haha) on Paste’s website (support Paste, people, it’s a great magazine!) the other day and thought it was a pretty solid track. Butterfly Boucher – which is the name of single female singer, not a band – is backed by Sarah McLachlan, which is a decent endorsement I suppose. Boucher’s been around awhile, and after listening to this album, entitled Scary Fragile, I think she has real breakthrough potential.
13. Drain The Blood 2:49 The Rural Alberta Advantage
I first heard TRAA’s song Frank AB from Hometowns from a random blogger. I then was re-introduced to them on XM Radio not too long ago with this song. They’re just good old-fashioned alternative rock. I think they could fit on a bill with The Thermals.
17. W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E. ft. Justice 3:27 Wale
Lyric: Cut beats, I’m a fucking word surgeon / Scalpel, sponge / This is work / Dance
Any rapper who parodies Seinfeld on their album art is okay by me. And one that pairs up with Justice? Even better. This song is fun, from the string-sample groove to Wale’s hilarious lines. I like this guy.
18. Fight! Smash! Win! 3:35 Street Sweeper Social Club
This a pairing of Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello and The Coup’s Boots Riley is hit or miss on the duo’s self-titled debut. This, I think, is one where they’re on the mark. It’s the awesome licks from Rage and the semi-effective political RATM rants done by a slightly less-cool version of Zach De La Rocha. But I refuse to hold that against these two, cause a lot of what they do is pretty sweet to drive in your car to with the windows down.
19. Two 5:56 The Antlers
Lyric: two different voices coming out of your mouth, / while I’m too cold to care and too sick to shout.
The best way I can describe this song is pretty and poignant. It’s a tale of trouble and woe, and there’s something really elegant about its simplicity. All the pieces – guitar harmonies, hushed vocals and sparse percussion – fit together so well. It’s from the album Hospice, which I recommend checking out. It’s one of the best this year.
20. Mariel’s Brazen Overture 6:01 Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s
So I already ranted about this, my favorite band. But what I’ll say about this song is that it has many twists and turns and provides an idea of what an 8-piece band is capable of. When they play it live, newcomers tend to clap at each transition cause the song shifts gears a few different times. Richard Edwards and lone female member Emily Watkins recount a topsy-turvy, self-destructive love story so well. Watkins’ voice has that sort of rasp, but in a different way than Rachael Yamagata. This song moves from country-tinged to classic-rock vibes and back and forth. In short, it’s awesome.
Download Wounded Jukebox 2 in its entirety here
So there you have it, a second installment. Hope some of this is new to you guys, and that you enjoy it all thoroughly. Please comment!