January 20, 2010


A weekly sampler of what we're listening to (new and old), and what we think you might like, too.


THE BAND -- "King Harvest Has Surely Come"
Maybe it's all the Steinbeck and Mark Twain I've been (slowly) reading lately, but this song seems to have more relevance to me than it ever did before.

It could also be that I am slowly turning into my dad - or at least taking over his musical tastes. The Band is his all-time favorite band (whenever someone says that, it always turns into a "Who's On First" conversation).*

I truly believe "King Harvest" to be a musical equivalent of the mythical Great American Novel.

The lyrics describe destruction, despair and hope all in four minutes. Farmers, unions, industry. Horses. Petty arson. It's all there. Plus it has bitchin' electric guitar solos, and Robbie Robertson. What's more American than that?**

*Plus, don't they just ooze cool on this album cover?
**Nevermind that four of the five were Canadians...

THE HANDSOME FURS -- "Handsome Furs Hate This City"
I'm not sure I've ever seen so many different live versions of a single song available on YouTube. That has nothing to do with music, but that has a lot to do with the Handsome Furs, right?

LCD Soundsystem -- "North American Scum"
Nothing new here...but this song has been great for driving while an iced-over Virginia starts to melt. If I could submit a whole album, I would, and it would be the new Spoon album. Fourth year and running, Spoon still tops my list.

TALLEST MAN ON EARTH -- "Where Do My Bluebird Fly"
Shallow Grave, an American folk album by a Swede, is the music of winter drear.

THE BEACH BOYS -- "Surfer Girl"
I deliberated a long time this week between The Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl," from the album of the same name, and "You Still Believe in Me," from Pet Sounds. Although the latter will always have my love as a most touching song, I choose "Surfer Girl" as this weeks pick. Both songs display a very attractive (to me anyway), somewhat anamolous, idea of a love song (sung by a man) in which the male is... shall we say, the weakness in the relationship. No, to put it better, the male is not the one it's done to, but the one doing. This is opposed to the plethera of angsty "she hurt me" pop songs.

I chose "Surfer Girl" for two reasons. One, is it not simply a perfect love song? And not yet a love song, because the foundational line is "do you love me?" A lovely expression of uncertainty. The song contains the perfect Beach Boys image of the female: "I have watched you on the shore/ Standing by the ocean's roar." Woman vs. ocean, and which has more power.

And the second reason is even simpler. It is one of the first rock songs I ever listened to, on cassette tape, while searching through a large tub of Legos for the right piece to complete my spaceship.

PAUL SIMON -- "Duncan"
My favorite part is the flute / recorder thing, but it seems to be
replaced with a violin live and I don't like it as much.

Our ked-wearing friend from Michigan with a penchant for dance, music, crafting and coffee.

YO LA TENGO -- "If It's True"
The first thing that caught me was that the intro echoes "I Can't Help Myself" by The Four Tops. Throughout the song we get these Motown influences, which always appeals to me. The rhythm kept by the piano and the underlying organ are just so pretty, and catchy. The song seems to be a Part II to track 1 "Here to Fall," where the speaker admits that a relationship is mixed with joy and sorrow, but his answer is to plunge into it anyway, to suffer and to love together. "I'm here to fall with you," he says. "If It's True" admits that indeed, there has been shortcomings, but they remain optimistic—it’s worth it. Ultimately, "It’s always better when you are near."

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Anonymous Econ said...

I've also been loving Paul Simon's self-titled -- it hooked me a lot more quickly than Graceland.

I finally got around to listening to Popular Songs last week and immediately realized the injustice of failing to include it in my 2009 top five. I've been listening to it constantly, and I'm more excited to see them (Friday) than ever. I loved the Four Tops homage (intentional or not), particularly because that song for me is forever associated with the Coen brothers' Blood Simple, in which it appears as a theme.

January 20, 2010 at 12:26 PM 
Anonymous Tim said...

KEXP for the mothereffing win.

January 20, 2010 at 11:53 PM 
Blogger deegeeoo said...

I agree on the Paul Simon. Duncan is wonderful. Even the demo is great.

January 21, 2010 at 12:02 AM 
Blogger Tony said...

Ditto on Duncan.

January 22, 2010 at 2:07 PM 
Blogger K. Janke said...

Jack, you make my heart glad! Also, check out "When I Paint My Masterpiece" for The Band's exactly opposite appeal.
And the Handsome Furs, ahhh, the Handsome Furs. "Swing your arms like satellites..."

January 22, 2010 at 9:33 PM 
Blogger JHitts said...

Kyle, isn't that one of the ones they did with Dylan? I can't remember if that also did it solo and I'm too lazy to check at the moment...

January 23, 2010 at 4:09 AM 

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