by Dan Gibson
Another week, another set of recommended songs from our music writers.
Nirvana and Tad aside, I loathe grunge beyond all reason. (Only so many subpar Sabbath riffs I can stomach, you know?) But of all the flannel-wearing clones that followed, Lawrence, Kansas' Paw resides in my heart's softest spot. The band's 1993 debut Dragline is a solid album with cool Southern-rock twists on the formula. Case in point: "Jessie," a song about a guy and his loyal dog saying goodbye to each other for dark reasons that aren't made clear. When the pedal steel guitar hits at 1:53 in this motorcycle-racing video, I still get goosebumps, and I've heard the song hundreds of times.
This seems appropriate given the weather this past weekend, not just for the title, but the for the relaxed, dreamy, overcast-ness of the overall vibe. This track is off of Mr. VanGaalen's recent Sub Pop album "Diaper Island," and is sonically nestled somewhere between, say, the neu-dream pop of Real Estate and Beach House and Ty Segall's unrefined garage-y love songs.
The War on Drugs, "Baby Missiles"
I've returning to The War on Drugs a lot the last couple of days, and really looking forward to their visit to Plush on October 20. They have the energy and edge of early '90s Yo La Tengo on the more mid-tempo "Come to the City," but they positively hurtle through this one. YLT did some good driving tunes, but you need to harness a missile to get through this wind tunnel of a song.
Bad deals gone wrong. A desperate man riding aimlessly through the Hollywood Hills, trying to reach out to the one woman that understands. A woman on the other end of the receiver, who should know better but just can't say no. When French DJ/producer/John Carpenter soundtrack aficionado Kavinsky released this single last year, not only did it become my favorite track of 2010, I was constantly thinking its cinematic grandiosity was just begging to be used in a proper film. Thankfully, Bronson director Nicholas Refn was thinking the same thing. "Nightcall" is the opening theme to Refn's new film, the Neon Noir potboiler Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and opening this Friday. With the film drawing comparisons to Walter Hill's The Driver and Michael Mann's Thief, I can only imagine how well this shimmering and glossy jewel will set the mood.
These guys have never been models of wit and decorum (Alcoholica, anyone?), but this song goes a long way to erasing over a decade of ill-will (Woodstock ’94, Load, ReLoad, Napster). First, it’s a bona fide anti-war anthem…by a metal band. Second, you get a great sense here, and on much of the material off their first two albums, at what huge, musical composition nerds these guys were. Metallica executes the baroque guitar flourishes throughout much of the track with the same, exacting precision as the burly guitar assaults that close the track. Third, and finally, when Hetfield sings “tied to machines that make me be” it clearly sounds like “make me pee.” Wicked.
DJ REAL, "Forsaken"
I was turned on to DJ Real earlier this summer by the guys and gals of Seashell Radio, who shared a bill with him when they played in his hometown of San Francisco. His real name is Nick Stargu, and he performs joke-rock (and joke-folk, and joke hip-hop, etc.); and while most of his songs are pretty funny, this is the most catchy and addictive one I've heard so far. In other words, it's the realest of Real.
Cambodian Space Project, "Love God"
From Phnom Penh, Cambodia, The Cambodian Space Project remake Shocking Blue's 60s classic "I'm Your Venus" into "Love God" by grafting the lyrics from 1960s Cambodian pop star Ros Sereysoteha's hit "Kolos Srey Chaom" onto it's sexy, sturdy grooves. Check out the violin solo. Vocalist Srey Thy is the real deal, with a voice as pure as...fill in your favorite description here.
Their debut CD 2011: A Space Odyssey dropped this week.
Spirit, "I Got a Line on You"
I first came across Spirit when I saw my late, great Ohio homeboys Them Wranch cover "I've Got A Line On You" at the Double Zero in 1999. Went to PDQ the next day and picked up a copy of The Family That Plays Together, which was sadly later ruined by a leaky roof (the record, not PDQ). But for those four years or so that I had it, man, well... that was one white-hot slab of psychedelic PVC! Or at least, that is how I imagined Kid Leo from WMMS Cleveland would have described it.
Forest Fire, "Future Shadows"
Sometimes I lack the ability to say just the right thing in the heat of the moment. I wouldn't hesitate to hire a band like Forest Fire to speak on my behalf. Billowy background synths and delicate percussive taps allow room for the unique crooning of Mark Thresher, the lead vocalist and brains behind this (mostly) Brooklyn-based operation. Some well-spaced psychedelic delay pedal action helps make the mood a little oozy and laid back.
Some friends of mine in Chicago have an electro/hip-hop/comedy group named Ruby Weapon. "Party Thighs!" is just as amazing for the video as it is for the song, which I've had on repeat lately.