23 April 2008

"everything about you" || ugly kid joe || 1992

Everyone has a soft spot for music that reminds them of their childhood. As adults (or even older teenagers), a lot of people may grow fond of songs that they didn't like as a kid, simply because the song reminds them of being a kid. This song isn't a specific example of that for me, because I didn't know it when I was a kid; I was 20 when I first heard it. However, this is NOT the kind of music that I was listening to until 1992; in fact, I'm pretty sure my favorite artists at that time were The Bangles and Rick Astley. But hearing this song instantly throws me back to that era.

Alt-rock was extremely cool in the mid-1990s, and I don't mean cool-popular, I mean cool-quality. The stuff was such a far cry from the Top 40 music of that time, which if you ask most people was also very high-quality. This was just a great era for music in general.

College radio did a lot for artists like Ugly Kid Joe. In fact, if you think back to your own personal favorite alt-rockers from the early 1990s, I'm willing to bet that they were first played on college radio. Let this be a lesson to you: Listen to your local college radio station. You'll know about your new favorite band months, even years before your friends and everyone else do.

The lyrics to this track make me smile. Any guy who's ever dated a really annoying girl will appreciate them, and may even wish that you'd recited a verse or two to her. Hell, maybe you already did, and if you're still alive to tell your story, I'd love to hear it.

The greatest moment of the song comes right near the very end, with the singer's final belt of the song's title.

I'm very curious to hear what my blog buddy over at The End Of Hard Rock thinks of this song.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
America's Least WantedMercury512 571-2CD

18 April 2008

"spring love" || the cover girls || 1987

Alright, since it's spring, I decided to pull out one of my favorite cheesy spring love songs. I mean, let's face it, the title of this one speaks for itself.

This post was also partially inspired by fellow blogger Will of Will For All, as he recently featured this album in one of his posts.

The Cover Girls had a handful of really cool songs on their debut record. They had a huge club hit with the bumpin' freestyle track "Show Me," and an equally hot follow-up with "Inside Outside." Strangely enough, even though I'm always a total sucker for a dance groove, this slow(er) jam was my favorite cut on the album. I think I like it so much because listening to it automatically puts you on a busy suburban street with friends in the early evening of a spring night, much like the summer night I described in my entry about The Passions' "I'm In Love With A German Film Star."

This just seemed right for the time of year. I promise that once summer gets here I'll feature one of their dance tracks to do them justice, but for right now we're staying spring-y and groovy.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Show MeFever RecordsSFD 004CD

16 April 2008

"crimewave" || crystal castles vs. health || 2008

Very rarely do I get the chance to brag about a cool track that's current, so rest assured that when the opportunity arises, I'm all over it.

Crystal Castles are a glitch/chiptune group from Canada. They've just released their self-titled debut album, which includes this awesome track.

HEALTH is a noise rock group from Los Angeles, and from what I can gather, they originally wrote and performed the song "Crimewave." Crystal Castles then either remixed, covered, or made a mashup of it with one of their songs; I still haven't quite gathered the logistics of how this Crystal Castles version came to be. But I can tell you one thing for sure: It's the coolest piece of glitchy electro music with chiptune overtones that I've ever heard.

I hope to hear more from these guys in the near future, and I'm glad that music like this is getting attention from today's youth and not being written off as soulless electronica. This may be proof that the rock revolution is stagnant for the moment, and we're sending the synths and drum machines to the forefront to play.

I'm game.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Crystal CastlesLast Gang RecordsCD

14 April 2008

"floating city" || y kant tori read || 1988

Anyone who knows the story of Y Kant Tori Read may skip the next paragraph. For those who have never heard of them, please read on.

Y Kant Tori Read was piano rocker Tori Amos' first foray into recording music on a major label. After winning a songwriting contest as a kid and having her song pressed on a 7-inch single, Tori continued to write music and finally landed a deal with Atlantic Records in 1988 with a group that was essentially a rock outfit to play music to words that she had penned. They were called Y Kant Tori Read as an allusion to the fact that Tori had difficulty reading sheet music when she was in school. The album was not commercially successful, but there were singles released of the songs "The Big Picture" and "Cool On Your Island." A music video was shot for the former featuring Tori clad in leather and wonderfully large '80s dresses (check it out here). Tori doesn't consider the work on this album true to her style, and to this day I've only seen one interview where she even acknowledges its existence, only in the form of a reference to "her rock chick years."

While Tori and her current fans may not dig it, I actually think that the Y Kant Tori Read LP is one of the most brilliant works that I've ever heard. I love hearing Tori's silky voice and her gentle piano melodies over the amazing drum work. The sound of the album is almost forest-y; I feel like I'm in the woods near a beach when I listen to it. It's relaxing, yet exuberant, and it totally rocks.

"Floating City" is my personal favorite track from the album, so that's why it's featured today. I'm not going to follow my wont and deconstruct the song's lyrical content, because I think it's much too personal. This song could easily call different images for different listeners, as with any great track.

I will say, though, that the song does seem like an odd harbinger for Midgar, the city that's home to the main characters of the game Final Fantasy VII. Midgar is a big floating city, just as the song describes.

If you plan to track down a copy of this album, your best bet is to get the LP. Plan to pay about $50, but rest assured that you won't end up with a bootleg. DO NOT buy the Y Kant Tori Read picture disc LP. It is a bootleg. The official Atlantic LP was only on black vinyl. It was released on cassette and CD as well, but both are even rarer than the LP and you can expect to pay much, much more, and you're very unlikely to find a genuine Atlantic CD. Good luck hunting! You can do it! I found one!

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Y Kant Tori ReadAtlantic81845-1LP
Y Kant Tori ReadAtlantic81845-4Cass
Y Kant Tori ReadAtlantic81845-2CD

11 April 2008

"echo in my head" || holiday || 2005

This is an example of what is, to me, perfect pop rock.

Holiday was a band from Fargo, ND. They got noticed after the release of a 2004 album called Living With The Fallout, which had a couple of radio singles in their area and on college radio stations. This track is from their 2005 followup, Fashionably Late, an ironic title as it describes something that the album was anything but. By then they were based out of the USA's greatest city for music: Minneapolis, MN.

There is nothing more to making a great pop rock song than what you hear here. It's relatable, youthful, and easily remembered. It's also extremely easy to get stuck in one's head, which brings new irony to the title.

I wish I knew more about this band or even had a MySpace to link you to, but all I can do is send a cry for help to citizens of Minneapolis to give me more info about this band. I've read in a couple of comment areas that they've broken up, and their lack of Internet presence supports that theory, but I don't have any concrete evidence.


UPDATE: Here's their MySpace!

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Fashionably LateBlueday RecordingsCD

04 April 2008

"it's my party" || lesley gore || 1963

The 1960s seem like somewhat of an anomaly to me in regards to its popular music. Comparing what was popular in 1963 versus what was popular just a few years later in 1968 will heed interesting results. To me, it sounds like completely different universes. In the later 1960s, psychedelic rock had taken over the youth culture, and the hippie movement thrust a lot of folk rockers into the limelight.

The early '60s, however, seemed still caught in the '50s pop music sound. This was probably due to the fact that "pop" music was really a new concept in the '50s. Before then, youth culture stuck to swing music and easy listening, which actually annoyed their parents because they only listened to classical music. By the '50s, though, World War II was over, and so was the love of "war" music (See Glenn Miller's "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree" if you're not sure what I mean by this term.). Youth culture sprung out with Rock & Roll and Doo Wop, two very cool styles of music that became cornerstones of American culture and still inspire musicians today.

It's no wonder that we were still hearing '50s-esque sounds by the time 1963 got here. It was still cool! If you ask most people, it's still cool today!

Everyone knows this Lesley Gore song, and I'm willing to bet that most will sing its chorus if you ask nicely. It's absolute Maxwell K Certified™ pop music perfection. The story is simple: Singer has a birthday party, supposed-boyfriend (Johnny) shows up with new girlfriend (Judy), who is now wearing his ring. Singer is devastated and cries at her own birthday party. Today this concept would be the making of lyrical content to a new Taking Back Sunday single, but in 1963 it became a swinging, clapping, danceable pop song.

Gore was a 16-year-old high school student in New Jersey when she recorded this song. She sacrificed a head-on music career to go to college, but remained in the industry by performing on weekends and during the summer. In spite of her unwillingness to devote all her time to a recording career, she still managed to land a bevy of singles on the Billboard charts by the end of the '60s. She even recorded a sequel to this song, called "Judy's Turn To Cry."

For me, though, "It's My Party" is her masterwork, and it's still one of my 10 favorite songs of all time.

And, just a bit of amusing irony: In 2005, Gore officially came out of the closet. Certainly gives a new spin to the song, doesn't it? Maybe she was jealous that Johnny had her Judy.

Here's a cool video of her performing it live.

Listen here.

Available On:
Malt Shop Memories - Jukebox GemsTime Life Music21077-22xCD

03 April 2008

"look! a dollar" || quit your dayjob || 2006

Only the Swedes could come up with a group like Quit Your Dayjob. Their sound is a healthy blend of very fast surf rock with the vocal stylings and mentality of in-your-face punk rock.

This song, just like oh-so-many other great tracks that I've posted, is fucking ridiculous.

I don't even know what further commentary I can give on this song, as it's just over a minute and a half long and the lyrical content is three words long. Just skank around and enjoy it.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Open Up, CoconutBad Taste RecordsCD

01 April 2008

"that boy freud" || pobi || 1993

Oh man. Is it any wonder why I look back so fondly on the early '90s? Songs like this just bring a huge smile to my face.

The whole euro house movement was just damn silly. There is absolutely nothing serious at all about this style of music, and back in the '90s people couldn't get enough of it! Maybe it's just because Clinton was the President, so we all just kicked back and had a goofy-ass decade. For the life of me I can't understand why the '80s are seen as so ridiculous, and everyone just overlooks the '90s completely. I can remember girls in my class in middle school talking about how stupid '80s fashion was, as they re-laced their Doc Martens and re-tucked their army-green cargo pants over them while re-checking their metallic silver nail polish. "Please, babydoll," I now reflect to myself, "you look like you're either an employee at Area 51 or a laser tag arena."

I digress. Sure, the fashion that coupled with the massive euro house craze was ridiculous, but the music was still awesome. I can still go to parties and crank songs like this one, and everyone dances without a second thought. Euro house was probably the first really accessible dance music that people my age remember, as it was starting to get big right as we started listening to popular music.

I absolutely love this Pobi track, as it's a shining example of how goofy euro house music can be. And who wouldn't want to dance to a song about Siggy Freud? I was hooked immediately after hearing the first lyrics, and I think you will be too.

I don't know much about her other than what my good friend Nasty G posted in his entry about her over at The Isle Of Failed Pop Stars. To summarize: She's Canadian, and at some point in the '90s she dated Mark Wahlberg. Nice.

Listen to it here.

Available On:
Send Me An AngelHa! Ha! ProductionsHACD-1323CD