by Dan Gibson
Six songs this week in one installment, hand selected by our music writers, including tracks by The Roches, The Who, Explone, Bright Eyes, Azealia Banks, and Murs.
The Roches, "We Three Kings"
John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over) has played frequently in the Jukebox O' the Mind (TM) the last couple of weeks as our soldiers have returned from Iraq. Is war over? Alas, no, but based on every war-based book I've ever read—novels, memoirs, histories of, admittedly, only wars of the last couple of centuries—it seems to me that any war is essentially the story of one person at a time. So, welcome home to those for whom war is over, and prayers of hope for the rest.
In weird juxtaposition, the jbotm (TM) also has played way too much of Wham's "Last Christmas," a circumstance I blame entirely on The Loft Cinema's having played the YouTube clip as part of its annual Very Merry Holiday Singalong (with bad sweater parade). The Loft's singalong is one of the wonders of the season, and if an earbug is the price I pay, so be it, even if it's Wham.
But the music most in my mind this time of year is my holiday standard, the one record I can't hang lights or wrap presents without; it's The Roches' 1990 album, "We Three Kings." Here's a sampler. Have a merry Christmas, everybody, and I hope 2012 turns out to be our favorite year so far.
"Christmas Song", from Tommy
Ken Russell, the controversial and legendary film director, died from natural causes last month. This is a clip from his 1975 film Tommy, based on The Who's breakthrough rock opera. This clip pretty much encapsulates Russell's film style; vibrant colors, sexual tension, paranoia, religious/violence juxtaposed imagery, and just plain ol' weird uncomfort. This version of the song may not be as rollicking as the original, but it's a treat to hear Reed (who I uncannily sound like when I do karaoke) and Margret banter back and forth.
Like a fierce assemblage of The Posies, Buffalo Tom, Superdrag and whatever other classic alt-rock bands you think of, Seattle indie quartet Explone explodes out of my speakers with catchy, crushing songs from an incredible album, last year's Dreamers/Lovers. "Michigan" is the best song about the Wolverine State since, well, "Detroit Rock City." Seriously, I dare you to try to get the chorus out of your brain. Download the record at www.explone.com.
Bright Eyes, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
A wintery, melancholy, and, I think, lovely tribute to the season. And to all a good night.
Azealia Banks, "212"
When that album from Rye Rye never materialized this year, after 2009's promising string of singles, I've been in girl-MC-depression. But behold, the glory that is Azealia Banks' "212." I have, literally, been waiting my whole life for her.
Dark humor rules in this new video of "'67 Cutlass" from Murs album Love & Rockets, Vol. 1: The Transformation. The video traces the narrative of the song, the ill-fated twists of a low-key drug run through the Arizona desert.