30 December 2007

"new age girl" || deadeye dick || 1994

Growing up in the 90's was a lot of fun, wasn't it? Everything was so brightly colored, since the 70's randomly got cool again and people were wearing lots of tye-dye beneath their overalls. It's not surprising that with this resurgence of the "peace" era came a bunch of damn hippie chicks.

That's exactly what today's song is about, too: Hippie chicks. But it certainly doesn't seek to knock them or point out the unoriginality of their nature. It instead embraces their subculture and points out many of its endearing qualities, such as a long lifespan thanks to a vegetarian diet or the economic consciousness of "spending lots of cash."

It's a good thing that the "new age" culture exists, too. I can't imagine what my neighborhood would have been like growing up without it. Just about every little corner store sold herbs, oils, hand-made jewelry, all that new age loveliness. (And they're all still there today!)

You've probably heard this song thanks to the film Dumb & Dumber, or perhaps thanks to its highly recognizable chorus about "Mary Moon," the girl mentioned in the song's title.

It's a personal favorite of mine for being the only song I know that uses the word "septuagenerian."

septuagenarian (n.)
A person between the ages of 70 and 79, i.e. "in their seventies."

Don't say you didn't learn anything today.

Listen to it here.

27 December 2007

"you're in love" || wilson phillips || 1990

Ugh...I know, I know. Wilson Phillips. Deal with it.

The subject matter of this song interests me because it deals with a certain type of relationship issue that's not often found in pop music (well, pop music that isn't emo). It describes the moment at which you've moved past a former relationship just enough to be genuinely happy for an ex-lover upon seeing them happy with someone else. Suddenly, pain surrounding the relationship subsides, and a bubble-bath feeling of comfort washes in, providing solace to you as you gaze happily at someone for whom you truly no longer have romantic feelings. It's the ultimate relief.

The reason I'm writing about this track right now is because today is the first day in about seven or eight years that I've actually been able to listen to it in its entirety. I took comfort in the fact that I could listen to it again, and not feel painfully saddened by it as I had in years past. I took comfort in that knowledge, and I thought it was a nice parallel to the song's subject matter.

That's really all I want to say about it. It's a pretty song. Enjoy.

Listen to it here.

26 December 2007

"don't take the candy" || wolf & wolf || 1983

Gosh, where to even begin with today's track?

To say that this song is bizarre would be the litote to end all litotes. It would be like saying that Warheads are "a little sour," or that Brokeback Mountain is "a little gay."

Get it? The song is effing peculiar.

The story is that of a young girl from Idaho who moves to L.A. to become a star, but soon finds herself the victim of a "candy uncle," who's offered her candy that just "ain't sweet." The singer apparently tried to warn the girl about the infamous L.A. Candy Uncles, but said warnings went unheeded and the girl shall never again roam the potato pastures of Idaho.

"Don't take the candy from the uncle in the street." Okay, I can do that. But wait, what uncle are we talking about here? Does she mean bad agents? Bad lawyers? Porno directors? Pedophiles?!

And what became of our young actress? Is she just a failed actress? A waitress? A porn star? (read: A failed actress.) Is she dead?

The thing that makes the song so creepy is its open-endedness. It would appear that not even the singer is sure what happened to the girl.

Believe me, at first listen, this song is ridiculous. But if you give it a chance, it is actually a pretty interesting story, and one that's no doubt happened millions of times to young ladies with Hollywood aspirations. The bizarre way in which the tale is told is what really makes this track unique.

Listen to it here.

25 December 2007

"sleigh ride" || bubblyfish || 2006

I've never been a fan of holiday music. But hey, I'm the first to admit it: Throw a synth behind anything and I'll listen.

Bubblyfish did more than just "throw in" a synth though. She composed a full-blown, 8-bit version of this holiday classic, and words simply aren't sufficient to acquiesce its awesomeness.

If you've never found holiday music to be too boring for your ears, give this track a try. Hey, even if you don't like it, it's not even two minutes long, so it's not much to sit through.

I must say, though, that it really doesn't need to be any longer than that. I fear that it would enter the Daft Punk territory of repetitiveness if it were even a minute longer. It's perfect the way it is.

As for Bubblyfish herself, all I really know about her is that she's an electronic artist from Korea who currently lives in New York. This track is by far the most upbeat I've ever heard from her, as her other works that I've played (including the droning "Morph 02" and the overwhelmingly saccharine "Kite") are extremely minimal in nature, which is, of course, not a bad thing at all. She seems quite the talent, and I hope to hear a lot more from her.

Listen to it here.

24 December 2007

"goodbye horses" || q. lazzarus || 1991

Umm, so let's talk about obscurity. This song is pretty much the definition thereof.

No one seems to know anything about Q. Lazzarus. The only tidbit of information about her that repeatedly seems to turn up on random websites states that she was, at some point, a cab driver in NYC. I've even tried to contact Ms. Lazzarus through this MySpace profile, which purports to be run by the husky-voiced heroine herself, but to date I've gotten no response.

I'm calling BS: I think she's not real.

Think about it: How could you create the most obscure song of all time? Simple. Invent a fake singer. Milli Vanilli had the right idea, but I think at the last minute Frank Farian decided to throw two German models into the spotlight. Big mistake, Frank; the folks behind Q. Lazzarus had the right idea: Invent a singer, invent a producer ("William J. Garvey"), and slide it into an iconic scene in an iconic film that will no doubt become both a cult and pop favorite. Then take a picture of some random staffer around the office (the Pepsi machine restocking chick, the head of corporate development, and the front-desk receptionist are all good suggestions) wearing a goofy cowboy hat, and throw it on the cover of the 12". Boom! Instant club / cult / college radio sensation, and lots of annoyed folks on the Internet 15 years later, looking for info about your non-existent, illusory singer.

The song itself is, naturally, beautiful. Lazzarus has an encapsulating, velvet voice, and the subject matter itself is quite interesting. The singer of the song is kissing goodbye to reality (which, in some mythology, was represented by horses). The singer has obviously been through something very tragic, and the lyrics indicate that she doesn't see things getting better anytime soon. So rather than trudge on with life and continue to deal with pain, she says, "Screw this, I'm outta here." Could it be a nod to suicide? Maybe, but I don't think so. I think it's about creating a new reality when the one in which you exist ceases to please you.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope Ms. Lazzarus does indeed exist, and I hope that this blog entry alone will inspire her to record more music (or at least shoot me an e-mail). But hey, even if I'm right, wouldn't that be awesome if I uncovered some massive musical sham? Gosh, even if it is a sham, kudos to the Q. Lazzarus team for pulling this off.

Listen to it here.

19 December 2007

"i'm not perfect (but i'm perfect for you)" || grace jones || 1986

Sometimes a song's lyrics can be so amazingly poignant that you'd swear you heard them before, but you can't prove it. Thus is the case with today's track.

Miss Jones (along with Bruce Wooley) wrote this very cleverly titled track for her 1986 album Inside Story. The album is smooth as silk, and this track is the perfect kickoff.

For once (in this blog), today's track was chosen based more on its lyrical content than its musical content. The music really isn't anything too special, but the lyrics are simply brilliant.

This song is the perfect way of telling someone, "Sure, I love you, but I am an imperfect being, and I wish to be loved in return as such." It's begging someone to love you in spite of your flaws. It seems like such a simple thought, but no other song has, for me, ever worded it so carefully and precisely as this one.

Listen to it here.

16 December 2007

"silver screen shower scene" || felix da housecat || 2001

Leftfield club classic from the earlier part of this decade. While I'm not big on modern dance music, I think this track deserves a round of applause for sheer kitchy-ness.

Hear this one once and you'll remember all the words (it's not too tough -- there are four lines of lyrics that repeat, plus an interlude). More importantly though, you'll be extremely inclined to move around.

This track is a refreshing take from the monotonous, machinist music that prevails in today's clubs. It's creative, exciting, and, just to be repetitive, kitchy!

Listen to it here.

"maggie's last party" || v.i.m. || 1991

The first time I heard this track, I was driving around with an older friend of mine, listening to one of his old club mixtapes from his days as a club kid & barback. After a few pretty basic hi-nrg and techno tracks, Margaret Thatcher was suddenly telling me that I was invited to an acid party. "Rave, rave, rave, MURDER," she cooed, and then proceeded to tell me about "love," "peace," and how "this party is BEST."

I smiled, but I had no idea that I was hearing an underground club classic.

This track hit the acid scene in 1991, when ravers were looking beyond acid house music for the next thing to listen to while tripping. To my knowledge, it's the only track ever recorded by V.I.M., and really, it's all they needed. The track is simply unforgettable; hear it once and the rest of the day you'll be chortling "acid party" as you march about your routines.

It's one of those club songs that sticks out like a sore thumb, but not at all in a bad way. It's the kind of track that sends people running to the DJ booth, demanding to know title and artist.

I'm terrified that this song will get lost in the annals of time, so I'm going my part to keep it alive. Pass this one on to your friends! Spread Maggie's love!

Listen to it here.

"gratitude" || danny elfman || 1984

I'm convinced that everything Danny Elfman touches with his voice turns into musical gold. One of new wave's most distinctive voices, Danny fronted Oingo Boingo until the mid-80's, when he split and put out a solo album called, well, So-Lo. He then went on to score numerous Tim Burton films (OK, so he's done others, but who cares about those?), including Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Corpse Bride.

While Elfman's movie scores are cool and all, we can't hear his totally rad voice!

That's where today's track comes in. This was his first solo release, and it probably only gained the notoriety it did because it landed on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. If it hadn't, college radio would have been all over it and it would have become a lost radio classic. Thankfully though, many 80's connoisseurs remember this track quite well, and some radio stations are cool enough to still spin it (like mine).

Definitely one of Elfman's finer lyrical pieces as well. A simple reflection on life, but done in a manner that is simultaneously condescending, self-deprecating, boastful and demanding. It's not bad to dance to, but this jam is more suited for playing very loudly in your car if you're driving around in an angered state because someone just let you down. A "steering-wheel pounder," if you will.

Listen to it here.

13 December 2007

"return to innocence" || enigma || 1993

Enigma was a revolutionary musical act when it arrived in underground clubs in 1990. The whole project is driven by French producer Michael Cretu, who came up with the idea of placing Gregorian monk chants over downtempo, ambient, tribal house music. As pretentious as that idea sounds, the result is quite fascinating.

Enigma represents, to me, the whole point of electronic music. There are 10,000 producers, deejays, etc. out there in the electronic realm who, quite simply, suck. They think they're original for making one cool loop and then distorting it beyond all recognition, putting some (usually unintelligible) vocals over it, and then getting it pressed onto wax.

To these icemen and icewomen, I say: EPIC FAIL.

I also tell them to go buy an Enigma CD.

Thank you, Michael Cretu, for actually using electronic equipment to make musical art. Thankfully, Enigma is anything but unrecognized by electronic music fans; most fans of modern trance & house music will likely have Enigma in their collections somewhere.

I chose this track today because it's always been a personal favorite. Sure, it was one of their biggest "successes" (I use quotes because it wasn't heard outside clubs or Pure Moods compilations), but I think it was so successful because it was one of their best tracks.

This track is about nature's cruelest impossibility: The inability to go back to one's youth. When you finally figure out one day that you'll never be young again, it's not an easy thing to cope with. It seems as though Enigma has written this track as a way to tell everyone, "Don't worry, it's going to be okay; getting old doesn't mean anything bad."

Stopping the wheels of time is life's inattainable golden ring. The music video for this song demonstrates that very concept; we see what life would look like if time did indeed run backwards. It's one of the most visually intriguing music videos I've ever seen, and I'm very pleased to share it here today.

Listen to (and see) it here.

08 December 2007

"heterosexual man" || the odds || 1993

Sometimes in songwriting you just have to be blunt.

This lovely little alt-rock track from Canada's The Odds is a shiny little tune about how the gentleman simply cannot resist himself around ladies, as he is, well, quite heterosexual. It's the antithesis of gay pride. We've all heard some individual of great political import say that there really should be such a thing as "straight pride," and to those forethinkers, I say, "It's been done. Check out this track."

It's really tough not to smile at this song. It's absurd, yet it really makes perfect sense for a song like this to exist. I suppose every girl-crazy guy needs to have a song for his heart, and by golly this is the one.

The real question for me is this: Are they serious? That's the great thing about the way the song is written; it's really impossible to tell if these guys are poking fun at men who are insistent of their desires towards women, or if they are indeed amassed in that group of individuals.

Listen to it here (UPDATE: This is now the original video clip. Enjoy!).

07 December 2007

"boom boom (let's go back to my room)" || paul lekakis || 1987

Sex and dance music have always gone hand-in-hand. The pounding rhythms, the titilating synth melodies, and, of course, the lyrics can all be related to the ultimate act of love. While some songs try to mask their adult subject matter, others embrace it and throw it right out onto the dancefloor.

Take today's example. A pounding rhythm that's half Hi-NRG, half Italo-Disco, and 100% sexy. "Let's go back to my room." Why, you ask? "So we can do it all night."

There's definitely no B.S. about this tune. Paul wants to do it, all night, in fact, and he'd like you to accompany him. Lekakis was a perfect choice to sing this song; no one can make the young ladies (and probably lots of young men as well) get into a sexy song faster than a bouncy little well-built blonde guy with a surfer thing going on.

The producers of this track definitely cashed in on the fact that sex sells. They were right, it certainly does, but it clearly can also make one of the greatest dance tracks of its era.

Listen to it here.

04 December 2007

"love is on the way" || saigon kick || 1992

Everyone can appreciate a beautiful ballad.

Hair metal was all the rage in the later 80's, and by the early 90's it had become a sort of novelty. However, although we as a mainstream audience kicked away the "hard" side of hair metal, we were still very willing to embrace power ballads.

power ballad (n.)
A rock song, performed by a hair metal band, that's much "softer" in nature than their other songs, and often deals with the heartache of a metal lifestyle.

Florida-based Saigon Kick churned out this gorgeous number right as the 90's were going grunge, which was probably a great time for it to hit MTV and Top 40 radio. The really cool catch? It also fared well with the metalheads' moms. Like I said, everyone can dig a ballad, and when you're an adolescent male, you don't lose any badass points for liking a ballad if it's a power ballad.

The beauty of this track lies in its simplicity. There's nothing more to it than vocals, soft guitar (which in no way overwhelms the voice), and a few cymbal buildups. No drums, no bass, no backup singers, no high production values. Just fantastic singing and soft instrumentation.

Defenders of the hair metal genre like myself could very easily point to this song when confronted by those who don't take this kind of music seriously. There's nothing but pure talent behind this track, and it's tough to argue otherwise.

And, one final note: This song is fun to lie on your bed and listen to in total darkness.

Listen to it here.

"pump it (nice an' hard)" || icy blu || 1991

If there any style of music that makes me unadulteratedly and genuinely nostalgic, it's hip-house.

Songs like this make me long for simpler days. They beam youthful jubilation, and bring to mind images of arcades full of brightly-dressed kids in cutoff jean shorts drinking Big Gulp sodas and shoving tokens into the Mortal Kombat II machine, in hopes of finally dominating Shao Khan. I think of roller rinks, and how they were very much the "place to be" at one time.

OK, back to reality.

Sure, Icy Blu is goofy. But who the hell cares? This music is fun. By the end of the song you're rooting for Icy to go ahead and find a dude that can "pump it, nice and hard." The rest of the disc has a similar feeling of adolescent ridiculousness. Rich kid adolescent ridiculousness. Icy's problems are certainly not high class, which is just more reason to giggle. (A fair warning though: Stay the hell away from "I Wanna Be Your Girl.")

Although the lyrics are charming, the jewel here is clearly the music. Hip-house dance beats are so delicious, and yet they go completely unnoticed by today's masses. The only hip-house artist that most will recognize is Technotronic, who are fantastic in their own right. Hopefully, though, you've learned by now that hip-house was an extremely rich style of music at a point in music history, and rest assured that there will be more of said glory found in later entries.

Listen to it here.

03 December 2007

"caroline's a victim" || kate nash || 2007

A song so deliciously ironic that it deserves at least a few moments of everyone's attention.

Kate Nash is annoyed by MySpacers. I certainly hope that I don't need to explain myself in regard to this term; you know exactly who I'm talking about.

"Like, wearing five sweaters and big hoopy earrings with dinosaurs on them while listening to Radiohead cassettes is totally cool, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiight?"

"Caroline" pokes fun at these folks. Our title heroine is extremely unhappy with her life status. She doesn't understand why she can't make friends with all the other people that dress like she does, even though she makes all these "killa killa killa killa beats" and takes tons of Polaroids of herself. I mean, who wouldn't want to be friends with someone who owns turquoise 7" Netherlands-only pressings of their favorite band's singles (probably without owning a turntable to actually play said singles)?

The beautiful irony of the song is that Nash owes all of her fame to MySpace. After breaking her ankle and winding up in the hospital, she started writing music and created a profile on MySpace, where she caught the eye of Lily Allen. Her first single (a 7" of this song) sold out almost instantly, and she's now one of the UK's rising stars. She hasn't (yet) gotten the attention that she deserves over here.

I have no idea if Nash's future material will live up to "Caroline," as the other songs on the Foundations maxi are a decent cry from it. My hope is that this track goes down in music history as a college-radio classic.

Listen to it here.

01 December 2007

"everybody dance" || ta mara & the seen || 1985

Clearly I'm on an electro-funk kick.

This snappy tune typifies the mid-80's Minneapolis sound that I adore oh-so-much. Maybe it's just because I think Minneapolis is such a cool town, but I just don't think a bad musician has ever come out of that town. Prince, of course, would be a prime example, and he is indeed linked to this group.

Ta Mara & The Seen were actually produced by Jesse Johnson, one of Prince's primo dudes and a member of The Time. He worked on this record right around the same time he was initiating his solo career, and it turned out to be a fantastic outlet for his funky creativity.

This song opens with ambient jungle noises, but a synth soon kicks in and flows us right into a downtempo groove. Ta Mara's vocals are flawless, but would Prince hang out with a lady that can't sing? I think not.

My only complaint about this song is that it isn't longer!

I'm off to look for a copy of the 12"...

Listen to it here.