1. Fleetwood Mac - Empire State
Oh how I love those wacky Macs. This song is one of their weirdest. Yeah, okay, so its about something, being impressed with New York. But they use the phrase "big apple taking a bite of me" < weird image. Its like the Simpsons' 'hamburgers take a bite of you' but they're talking about Hamburg. Okay. Anyway, the music is weird. More than "Hold Me" there's misplaced yelps in the background. Lindsay really knew how music worked. Yelps, that's the pop key. Its a thouroughly zany song, from the piano thing in the beginning that isn't so much a melody as it is a cat happening to walk over the right keys before falling on the ground cutely.
2. Rezillos - (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures
I don't remember the first part of this song. I remember it suddenly just accenting every beat and then changing but staying the same. Bum Bum Bum Bum. Like that but with distortion. This kind of becomes a theme, loud punk songs that I like. Not that I don't usually like punk, but these are kind of sentimental compilations, not like powerful forceful compilations. Anyway.
3. Yo La Tengo - Stockholm Syndrome
Again, the claves in the chorus, Yo La Tengo = Dorks. The bass player James McNew is singing the song. He sounds like the character Strong Sad. This is hilarious. I did not realize this. It changes everything.
4. Les Lolitas - Bouche Baiser
Group singing, its very normal for the band that would become Stereo Total. I'd say its even normaler than the France Gall it tries to quote. Maybe its just this song though. I like the kind of stopping part that gets more stopping as the song goes.
5. Franz Ferdinand - Darts of Pleasure
I have no idea how the first part of the song and the second part go together. Here's what I think of the second part: I think he's saying Ich Ben Ein Superfantastic. I mean I hope he's saying that. I'll try not to listen too carefully. Here's what I think of the first part: they are ripping off the key part of the chorus from the Tom Tom Club. They have this song, "Wordy Rappington" that tells us everything about words. Words are fun and words are... Anyway, the Ferdinands use that pattern for the chorus "Words are poison darts of pleasure". I don't know what that means, I mean I know what the words mean, but I don't know what that means.
6. Electric Light Orchestra - Last Train to London
This song ich ben superfantastic. Let me translate: This song I am super fantastic. Anyway, the chorus. The bass, the bass is the hero of this song, playing the hook that the strings follow. And how would you feel to be a string player with a disco chart in front of you, that you'd been taking lessons, taking crappy theory classes in college so you could graduate with a degree in Instrumental Music so you could better qualify for the symphony or whatever. And you didn't get into the symphony. Just into the 'string player' phone number list at the recording station, so whenever a band wanted strings in their disco song you were the one to call. And you look at the chart with your superclassical training eyes and think 'mendelssohn, bach, I play that, this is repetitive supershit' and you play it and get your fifty bucks and then you hear it on the radio and it redeems everything. Let me put it this way. I have never heard the San Fransisco Philharmonic, but I have heard this.
7. The Clique - Superman
REM does a cover of this, I've heard it but I don't remember it. I don't believe they could pull it off, and I don't want to hear it. The part where everything gets really bouncy, that's a good part. The first part is a little dull, with the tempo dragging and everything, its kind of a downer after the disco bliss-co of ELO. Also this seems like a response or at least an aside to the Bucks Fizz song on the last compilatin.
8. The Associates - White Car in Germany
Okay, let's try and 'get' this together. Its synth-pop, but it isn't that kind of synth pop. Its more like synth-serious. From the first bit it could be morose Sparks. What do I think of the singing? Its like a less ridiculous Nick Cave. He's being dramatic, but he isn't being dramatic about Gargoyles and stuff. I don't know what's important about the namesake, the white car in germany. I like the backing music in this song and it seems like whatever this guy is singing about he really means it. For some reason, I think it would be really cool to be an Associates fan.
9. TV on the Radio - Satellite
Now these guys I get. I want this song to be louder, but alas, the headphones. They only make things loud that I don't like, Bob Dylan's harmonica, sludgy sixties distortion, etc... If I'm the first person to compare them to Fun Boy Three then I accept my medal of smarts. If I ain't then let me be the first to compare them to New Kids on the Block. What? You say they sound nothing like NKOTB? Well that's how much you know? Seriously though, I don't understand the part with the recorders, it seems like it would have been done better with flutes.
10. Modest Mouse - Polar Opposites
Normally the bass does all the work for this band, but the guitar is doing some of it also here. Actually this is probably the one Modest Mouse song where things aren't grossly (respecfully said) unbalanced. I've always liked these lyrics, I distinctly remember writing "I'm trying to drink away the part of the day that I cannot sleep away" in my French book in tenth grade. It seemed very shocking at the time. I know the lyric is "primer gray" but now it sounds like "farmer gray" which could either be the color of a farmer with a weird tan or it could be like "farmer Gray" like that's his name.
11. The Motors - Dancing the Night Away
The second punk song that goes from 'eh' to 'AH!'. This has a vocal melody that goes chromatic like "Heroes and Villains" but I'm sure it doesn't know it. The fact that they repeat the lyric 'dancing the night away' a zillion times make me think that somebody is actually dancing with the hopes that the moon will move faster away and the sun will come back sooner. It really helps.
12. Meat Puppets - Lost
This has the opening guitar line of "Over the Hills and Far Away" a little bit, which made me really hopeful that this was a song from the sixties, I think he says something about 'living in Nixon's time' or whatever, which made me also hopeful that I had discovered a precursor. See, I didn't know that this was the Meat Puppets. It started to make sense when the song turned out to not have a chorus or any memorable parts. It eventually works out.
13. Fun Boy Three - The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum
I like this band. Or I like the idea of this band. Things are very drummy and very vocal. This song is particularly dramatic. '"Go nuclear", the cowboy told us', sounds like a funner lyric than it is. Everything sounds really good, from the lounge-but-threatening vocals to the clear-and-present drums pounding constantly to the flute thing that's, come to think of it, the only other sound than vocals and drums. Wow. That's impressive. Whens the last time you've heard a song scored for percussion, voices and flute?
14. The Turtles - It Ain't Me, Babe
I think I like the Dylan version better. I would call this panning 'heroic', I like the idea of seperating the vocals and the music completely so they both have to be equally good. I thought about doing this to the Jesus and Mary Chain, and boy, would that not work. Ha! That would sound so bad!
15. Wire - Feeling Called Love
There's an offhanded way in which the lyrics are delivered, its not irony. Because its too early for irony. It must be a legitimate question. "Give me Love" Anyway, Wire were a great band.
16. The Zombies - Friends of Mine
Okay. Listen to this song. Isn't it cool? My favorite part is the piano part, where they go 'hup!' and the piano and the drums march together. Or what about the vocal part that pops up in the second verse, its just like 'bah bah bah pah pah pah pah bah' its so pretty.
Now listen to it again. Listen to it ironically. The peppy march is against you. Its the march to celebrate all of the things that you are against. "When I'm with her, she talks about you, the things that you say, the things that you do". Listening to it this way, isn't that a total smack in the face? Listen to it like the singer is saying 'they are friends of mine' like he's forcing it, like he's trying to cement that. Contrast that with all the names. All those pairs. The pitiful listing of friends that are 'mine', like they belong to you, but really you belong to them. Suddenly don't you feel lonely?
But it gets worse.
17. St. Etienne - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
18. Lou Reed - Romeo Had Juliette
So Romeo and Juliette, two star-crossed lovers torn between their families. Let's picture Lou Reed, the narrator as not a bystander, but as all members of both families standing by. He's the conduit for the streets, the one(s) in power, their conscience and, their reason for being. Romeo wouldn't have met Juliette if it wasn't for their opposing families. He's the prince at the end telling us what we've done by setting up teams. Okay, blah blah blah, Romeo had Juliette.
Past whatever brilliant interpretation I have of it, Lou Reed sounds like he's taken helium. Plus, everything he says is shit. His misunderstanding of how the story relates to New York, even to the understanding of culture of his postmodern New York is laughable, even insulting. The only important thing is the chorus. He could be going 'nah nah nah nah' through the verses, and it would be better.
19. The Mendoza Line - You Twitch When You Dream
Sometimes I like songs that don't jump out more than I like songs that do jump out. Or maybe its just that they jump out differently, I mean this one JUMPS more than the Mama Cass song that I have the misfortune of having to think of something to write about in a couple songs, but it JUMPS less than ELO. I am really happy about the trumpet. Maybe its that I want certain songs to be mine, and not everyones. That said, I don't particularly love this song, it just reminds me of other songs like this.
20. Electrelane - On Parade
Now here's a band that impresses me. They do the new dance thing for the first part. It helps that its catchy. The lead singer's voice doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, it stays in the background, even though he's someone I want to listen to. Then he starts yelping, and that's the coolest thing ever. And when the voice pops up, 'i've been a liar and a sneak' or 'i've been a liar and awake' whatever he's saying there, that's really great.
21. Generation X - Ready Steady Go
The first time I heard this song it was by a ska band on a ska compilation. I hadn't heard the orgininal version until recently. Anyway, the band that was doing it didn't seem to know what it was about, but looking back, I would want to rerecord this song too. The guitar solos are limp, the only thing that's really worth a whit are some of the lyrics. I was in love with the stones.
22. Sebadoh - Ocean
Now here's another indie song that reminds me of Christmas. Frosty the Snowman. That's what it is. Speaking of the wacky guitar part in the end, it would be interesting to see who ripped off who, M. Barlow or the Pixies with "Gigantic". I'll look em up. Okay, yeah, Sebadoh was way later with this one. Its a bad rip-off. Anyway, still the Christmas part.
23. Dinosaur Jr. - Freak Scene
This is the song that "Mahgeetah" reminded me of. The way the verses are the same but they change, but each time they change a little bit differently. All the times I've heard this song and admired it, I'd never noticed the really shitty part with double tracked voice and acoustic guitars and stuff, or did I just make that up? No, its real. Yeah, that verse is a 'pass'. Anyway, this is the best Dinosaur Jr. song.
24. Mama Cass - Its Getting Better
Eh. Its nice in that 'oh, listen to that' kind of way. The horns and stuff. And Cass sounds vintage and everything. I don't really think its getting better. I think she says 'rocket belts and poetry', which if she's actually saying that, makes the song better. But don't push it.
25. The Magnetic Fields - Long-Forgotten Fairytale
When the banjo struggles a little bit in the chorus, that's the robots winning. Past that, Stephin Merritt is, for me, always between Indie and pop. He makes all these brilliant pop references, but then there's the whole close-singing thing. Or the quintuple tracking of voices, I mean obviously its not five people, but there's that kind of anonymity. It works with some tracks. And hell, it works here, but its a dirty little trick. Its like you don't have to mean it if there's more than one of you singing it. I mean, I don't know if Stephin mean anything he says, but he wrote it, so somebody has to think it.
The last lyric on the CD is key: "I'm caught inside a dreamworld where the colors are too intense, and nothing is making sense." Music is the only thing that can break my heart and then try and put it back together in the same sentence. At least I think its put me back together.