1.31.2009

Eighteen From 2008

This is not an FCM post, this is just me, Ben.

For the last several years I've created a list containing 20 of the best songs I heard first in that year. December of 2008 had me laid out sick, so I'm running a bit late. In addition, I am only including 18 songs this year. I want this list to be ABSOLUTE favorites and didn't water it down with two more tracks solely for consistency. I'm not a critic, just a lover of good sounds so don't do that ever-so postmodern critique-the-critic thing, please? If you see a little pink star next to an album name, it's one of my favorites for the year. Lastly, the list isn't in order of greatness - rather I tried to create a nice flow for listening. Click here to download the whole thing.

"Soul '69 (Part II)" A-ko
When I'm happy I sneeze all day
This jazz-funk, sample laden DJ creation would be fun and happy without the vocals, but the charming and ridiculous nature of the vocal performance makes Soul '69 (Part II) legendary. The melodies, both instrumental and vocal, are infectious. The horns, the swirling wah wah, and the woodwinds ride ever so lightly and tightly upon the beat and bass groove. I've spent countless weekends with this song on repeat in my head, letting out an occasional "Aah-Choo," revealing my madness.

"As If Love Was a Sword" Steven Delopoulos (Straightjacket)
And the music above was a children's choir
A week after the great Iowa flood of 2008 peaked in my hometown of Cedar Rapids, I drove there to pick up my kids who had been staying with their grandparents. Because of the flooding I had to take local highways through Iowa, rather than my typical interstate route (290,88,80,380, if you care). A mix CD was left in the car and on it was this gem of a song. It's a waltzy 3/4 - for which i have a general weak spot. The arrangement starts with a straightforward folk approach and builds to a grand, bombastic crechendo complete with a choir and what sounds like tympani. I listened over and over and over, as much drawn to the imagery in the lyrics as to the odd musical trajectory of this short song. It seemed suitably apocalyptic for the moment, driving into the disaster that visited my hometown. "The orchestra roared."

"Damn I'm Cold (Feat. Lil' Wayne)" Bun B (II Trill)
Best to get you some sleeves
The swagger on this song is so thick it's impenetrable. Lil' Wayne and Bun B come together and take turns rapping about how absolutely great they are on this remarkably smooth production. This isn't a groundbreaking song, just a perfectly executed treatise on the coldness of these two rappers. Every time this song comes on, I get a little chill.

"Everybody (Feat. Kanye West, Sa-Ra & Andre 3000)" Fonzworth Bentley
Simple elegance looking better when you dance
Up late one night flipping channels, I happened upon a string of rap and R&B videos. At some point Destiny's Child and Sir Mix a Lot segwayed into Fonzworth Bentley. The video presents the entertainers in tuxedos on a soundstage doing dance routines like they're the commodores or something. It works because the music simultaneously throws me back and catapults me into the future. It's classy as hell, sensual, sexy, and fun. Andre's verse is immaculate, his tone is smooth and his cadence buoyant. Fonzworth's songs (see C.O.L.O.U.R.S. below) have a distinctly unique style that I can't get enough of.

"Camel" Flying Lotus (Los Angeles*)
...
It was hard to pick a song from Los Angeles because the album works so well as a unit, each track a twist or turn on a singular highway of sound. I don't even know what they call this music anymore, but it's essentially electronic DJ production with hip hop influence. Listening to this record reminds me of how I felt listening to DJ Shadow's Endtroducing... in 1997. The music sounds new but familiar. I can get sucked into it completely or live alongside it harmoniously, depending on my whim.

"Until We Bleed (With Lykke Li)" Kleerup (S/T)
If Cupid's got a gun, then he's shooting
I had an incredibly overwhelming panic attack in July. I was in World Market picking up some Malteasers and it hit me like a ton of bricks. If it weren't for my headphones and this song on repeat I would have certainly gone mad or been run over by a bus in the street. Maybe it's the beat, but for me this song manages to be incredibly soothing while giving me the distinct impression that the world may indeed be ending right before my eyes. Lykke Li makes a frail yet powerful performance and Kleerup turns out what just might be the sexiest song I've heard in the last three years.

"2 Becomes 1" Karl Blau (Nature's Got Away)
All the hardships sail away
I'm sitting in a mostly-empty barroom with wood panel interior. The bartender, a woman in her 50's, hands me another jar of Miller Light, and i swivel on my stool back toward Karl Blau and his band. The warm tones of the guitar and vocals offset the draftiness of the place. I'm staring at the linoleum where my mind is projecting a slideshow of images starring the two of us. This song could never be true without you.

"Holes In Our Heads" Retribution Gospel Choir (S/T*)
It was just like she said
I was pretty exited to get a hold of Alan Sparhawk's new album, especially after reading that Mark Kozelek produced it. At first, Retribution Gospel Choir was a big letdown for me. It seemed to neither embrace the fragility of his work as Low or the heaviness that these songs seemed to yearn for. But after a couple of weeks this summer in the painting studio with this record on repeat, I figured it out. Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power, used massively layered guitars and vocals to become one of the heaviest and powerful rock productions ever (IMHO). There's power in numbers but there's power in singularity too. A single, passionate voice and one or two electric guitars strummed with abandon can be just as moving as twenty. That's where "Holes In Our Heads" succeeds - it pulls us in with a finger and pushes us out with the passion of a single, determined man.

"C.O.L.O.U.R.S. (ft. Lil' Wayne & Pimp C)" Fonzworth Bentley
I don't wear sneakers, I wear slippers
This low-key, ultra-smooth track features some of the most over-the-top lyrical content since R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet. By that I don't mean bat-shit-crazy, I only mean that when you hear a man talking at length about cashmere, cognac, and exotic animal furs and leathers... Ummmm... Fonzworth's verse stands out - for some reason I find myself believing that he's telling me the truth, that he actually has purple silk lining in all of his coats. Lil' Wayne and Pimp C are perfect choices for filling out the song - both have such interesting voices and tend to shine when the tempo is a bit slower. Best of all, the chorus spells out this wonderful acronym, and it's fitting - what we have here are Cool Outrageous Lovers Of Uniquely Raw Style.

"Mutha'uckas" Flight of the Conchords (S/T*)
He's gonna wake up in a smoothee!
Flight of the Conchords has been a highlight of my year. I've watched season one several times and the CD is in play at least once a week. I've probably spent hours laughing to Jemaine and Bret's antics. The magic here is that the songs work as songs but come to life as videos and get raised to art in the context of the show. It was hard to pick just one song, but I chose "Mutha'uckas" because it's catchy and stands well on it's own - but you should really watch the video.

"Mr. Carter (Feat. Jay-Z)" Lil' Wayne (Tha Carter III*)
I heard somebody say church, I'm-a need a suit
Lil' Wayne has been a highlight of my year. He's on 3 of the 18 songs in this list and only this one is from Tha Carter III. There's something about the combination of his wheezy flow, his outlandish rhymes, and his complete confidence that makes me want to eat whatever he's cooking. Jay-Z makes a solid contribution to this piano-plink ridden production. While musically it's not the most interesting track on his album - I love the samples and I'm particularly fond of the inventiveness of Wayne's rhymes.

"The Way We Ride" Fulton Lights (The Way We Ride*)
They were trying to take my land
Last year Andrew Spencer Goldman took us to the city, this year he's brought us out west. "The Way We Ride," is like a cowboy version of gangsta rap. It's brimming with bravado and unapologetic street (range?) cred. The dirty-muddy production that put me off at first kept bringing me back for another listen. It's a fighting song, but popping out from the plodding vocal delivery are some great melodies. "Six bullets says I don't give a good goddamn."

"The Vowels Pt. 2" Why? (Alopecia*)
Playing the wall at singles bingo
Vocals are clearly driving us through this song, but the vehicle we're riding in is one of those toddler pull-toys with wooden oval wheels. The punchy, lunge-release, lunge-release, of the track is relentless and powerful - giving way only when we recite the vowels. Every phrase of lyrical content is an image-inducing head scratcher, delivered swiftly and melodically in series. This song makes me smile and move - I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

"Half Of Two Times Two (Newer Version)" Barr (Summary*)
So let's all be special art rebels together
On the train listening to Barr's Summary last month, a man near me interrupted to ask me what I was listening to, what kind of music was in my headphones. All I could think to say was that it was sort of like a guy talking. He said, "Like rap?" and I said, "No, not really." The truth is that on a basic level, this song really is a lot like a guy talking over a simple, repetitive bed of piano, drums, and bass. The value of this song and most of the brilliant work on Summary will not be separated from the lyrics. While these songs are certainly about the words, they are absolutely meant to be songs. Brendan Fowler's vocal delivery and approach to melody breaks up the stream of consciousness into distinct movements, emphasizing the most important phrases and infusing the words with passion. Please don't give this song one listen, listen five times in a row because I need you to see that this is so much more rich and important than a guy talking. "That's what i'm saying. Oh my god, there is soooo much!"

"Archangel" Burial (Untrue*)
...
Untrue is a sexy and nearly perfect electronic album. "Archangel" manages to be atmospheric and undulating without relegating itself to the background. The beat is gorgeous - but not just the beat - every tone and texture of every sound that creates the beat is immaculate. That apparent attention to detail is present in every aspect of this production. Each layered crackle and synth is absolutely meant to be. The vocal is repeated and manipulated with speed and pitch shifts and never comes off gimmicky or contrived.

"New Hollywood Babylon" Don Cavalli (Cryland)
And when I talk... Violence!
This quirky song could easily be tossed off as a novelty due to the vocal delivery and lyrical content but it's just too damned funky and unique. It's hard for me to pin down what keeps me coming back to it. Sonically, it's funky and weird and bouncy and joyful. I love the little wah wah guitar solo moments. This guy's accent and vocal approach makes hearing phrases like "Put your hands up, ya'll!" and "Cadillac cars, Pussycat Girls!" like eating little delicious desserts - perhaps it may be low in nutritional value, but it's pretty damned tasty.

"Bring It On Home To Me" Sam Cooke
Bring it to me
Seriously, how did I miss this song for 31 years? One night I was waiting for the blue line downtown and the trains were delayed. There was a subway musician who was playing soul music with an acoustic guitar with a crowd of delayed passengers around him singing along. I've never seen anything like it - with every song the crowd grew bigger and people around him were not just watching, they were actually singing and clapping along. At some point he went into Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me." While it certainly sounded familiar to me, I couldn't place it and quickly wrote down some of the lyrics so I could hunt it down when I got home. Sam Cooke's voice is amazing, and this type of soul music is rich and evocative. Thank you, infectious street musician, for bringing this song to my attention. Better late than never.

"Joe's Waltz" The Dodos (Visiter*)
YOU NEED HELP! YOU NEED HELP!
It's been a frustrating year for me. Maybe that's why this list has more fighting songs on it and less singer-songwriter material than years past. "Joe's Waltz" is a little of both. The first half is a good-but-harmless, folksy, melodic waltz. What the song morphs into at four minutes is something entirely different. Sweetly sung melodies give way to shouts, angst, distortion, banging drums, and energetic obscenities. There's conflict in the composition but there's continuity as well. "C'mon, this shit is real."

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12.05.2008

FCM #18 - Have A Very EI Holiday

FCM #18 - HAVE A VERY EI HOLIDAY Well... Happy holidays, folks. Do you feel that wintery cold outside and the wintery warmth in your heart's hearth? Special thanks to NickD who created this stunning cover. Click here to download the entire FCM #18 or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

Next week's Theme - "I love this song because the video is awesome!"

"Fairytale of New York" The Pogues
Jane writes: One of my all time favorite holiday songs. A gorgeous tune with a devastating theme of how love turns cold over time -- just like the air turns bitter at this time of year. Oh, gentle fate, warm our toes this holiday season. Flush our collective cheeks with the comfort found only in the communal exchange of song. Dab our running noses with your inspiration, and quiet our unrest with cottony slumbers... What??! I don't know what I'm talking about. Happy holidays, gang.

"The Blizzard of '96" The Walkmen
Allison writes: This is a joyously wintry little tune from the Walkmen. Although I think lyrically it concerns a patched-up relationship, the music conjures storybook winter scenes: snowball fights, sledding down neighborhood hills, and my imaginary pet reindeer.

"Christmas All Over Again" Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Chris writes: Yes, it's Christmas all over again. It's hard to believe we've arrived, but here we are. Christmas was, at one time, a welcome distraction and a reason to be giddy. But with age comes pessimism and it's now more of an unwelcome distraction that reminds me how terrible I am at gift-giving and keeping in touch with family. Tom Petty's affectation is something I've always loved, but when he lends it to a Christmas song it takes on this sort of resigned sarcasm that I can really appreciate. He puts together a pretty remarkable hook that somehow makes Christmas's arrival palatable. By the end of the song I'm comfortable with my aversion but I also know why people love this season so much. Thanks, Tom Petty, for helping me tolerate another holiday season!

"Christmas In Hollis" Run DMC
Mark writes: The song I picked was Christmas in Hollis by Run DMC. I picked it because it has to be the best Christmas Hip-Hop song ever! Along with the fact that DMC's whole verse is actually how Christmas was in our house when I was coming up.

"Deck Five" Saturday's Children
Justin Step writes: I feel a little cheap for selecting another Office Naps track, but what the hey? It's a nice Christmas tune, and it's performed by a Chicago garage band. They mash up Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" with a splash of "Deck the Halls" with some nice, psych-folky harmonies.

"Place To Be" Nick Drake
TJ writes: This entire album (actually just anything from Nick Drake) makes me want to just walk around when there is snow on the ground and crank this up in my headphones. Personally it calms me, I love it.

Happy Holidays!

"King's Crossing" Elliott Smith
Brian writes: Let's face it...the holidays are equally joyous and depressing. And I don't know about you, but while I like my tunes a lot of ways I mostly like them sad. For whatever reason it's the sad ones, with a small sprinkle of hope, that make me feel warm and cozy on my insides. This, in turn, actually renders their depressing powers useless, and transforms them into uplifting songs.

When I first discovered Elliott Smith, I was still living in the 'burbs, but working full-time and going to school full-time in the city. I was in the process of selling my place that I moved into with my recently ex-girlfriend, and I had high hopes of moving downtown to start a new life. I vividly remember the train rides, late nights and early mornings spent listening to this song (repeatedly...especially in the winter months).

The Christmas references are clearly drug references in actuality, but those references, along with my winter listening habits have concretized the connection for me.

This song appears on "From a Basement on the Hill", which was the last Elliott Smith album. It was recorded before he threw in the towel, but released afterwards.

Merry Christmas!

"Christmas Song" Dave Matthews Band
Margaret writes: This is quite possibly my favorite song of all time - and I don't say that lightly.

I love the simplicity with which he tells the story, and the way he weaves the message of "love" throughout. Even if you hate Dave (which I'm sure most of you do), humor me and listen to this one - it's truly a beautiful song, and it sounds like a lullaby.

"Babylon" David Gray
Felix writes: Back when I first arrived in Chicago, fresh out of grad school, I worked my first real job at a small company in Barrington, IL, doing Flash work.

I spent a few late, late nights in the office (situated in a strip mall called The Foundry), meticulously and laboriously hand-updating Flash keyframes for a humongo project. I remember having this song on loop, and heavy snowfall out the window as my car gradually became the only one left in the lot.

This song makes me think of winter, and of being lonely. It makes me remember being the only one at the office, away from my grad school friends, a warm table lamp by my computer, and an expanse of white snowfall just outside.

"Christmas Time Is Here (vocal)" Vince Guaraldi
Tracey writes: It really isn't Christmas until you see the Charlie Brown Christmas special. I remember fighting my brother for a spot in front of the TV when this cartoon was on. However, that memory was overshadowed in the early 90's by an episode of the TV comedy show Martin Lawrence. On this particular episode, Martin was hosting a Christmas show, and had two little people ballet dancing to Christmas Time is Here, which abruptly switched to Kurtis Blow. Now, when I hear this song, I think of me and my brother dancing around the Christmas tree with little people.

"Still, Still, Still" Mannheim Steamroller
Renata writes: My most meaningful memories of the Holiday have always been music-related. I grew up in a Mennonite church where the congregation sang in 4+ part harmony every chance they had. Come Christmastime, there would be various music-based services held each week. I always took part in the impromptu choir that would "perform" one or two special Hymns during the services. One of my favorites we performed remains Still, Still, Still. Enjoy.

"Lo! How A Rose E'er Blooming" Sufjan Stevens
Ben writes: This hymn is one that I remember from my childhood as tedious, yet enjoyable. Sufjan has transformed it into something different, a delicate, and beautiful tune where the beauty of the words and story can shine through. THere's something magical about the repeated phrase, "when half-spent was the night." Also, if you like this track, ask me for a listen to the rest of Sufjan's Christmas EPs.

"Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" Elmo & Patsy
Christine writes: You can ask Kisha and Margaret... I do not like Christmas music. I just find it irritating to the highest degree. But this particular song will always be welcome this time of year for me. I still remember us begging Dad to put on the album at Christmas-time and laughing over and over at this whole thing.

"I'm Giving Santa a Pikachu for Christmas" Pokémon
Nick writes: My contribution to the holiday mix CD is a song that always reminds me of the spirit of gift-giving and togetherness that pervades the holiday season.

"12 Days Of Christmas" Straight No Chaser
Margaret writes: This is a recording from the founding members of Straight No Chaser, Indiana University's a cappella group. One of the original members dug up some old videos from a 1998 concert and posted them on YouTube for the other members to see. Around the holidays, the video for this song received over 8 million hits. The group was then contacted by Atlantic Records, and they signed a 5-album deal, to which this album is the first.

Listen for "Africa" at the end - that's the best part.I have the whole album if anyone wants to upload - it's a great one for the holidays!

"Coldest Winter" Kanye West
Kisha writes: So I was obsessed with the new Kanye album and specifically this song. He repeats a lot on the entire album, but he was clearly working thru a lot of emotions. I love the new sound!

"Long Way Around The Sea" Low
Ben writes: Ever since this record came out, this song has been one of my Christmas favorites. As a kid, I loved "silent night," particularly at Christmas eve service when everyone lit candles. For me, this has the feel of that dark night and candle-light. There's magic in the harmonies, as well as the story told.

"Lake Shore Drive" Aliotta, Haynes, and Jeremiah
Walt writes: It could easily be argued that Alliota, Haynes and Jerimiah's superb Lake Shore Drive is a summer song but I think it works equally well in the winter. So much so, that it's my holiday pick. No, there isn't any snow in it and you won't hear any bells a jinglin' and Santa doesn't make an appearance. For me, however, it always reminds me of winter as I would play it on my way home after a long night of ushering at one of many of Chicago's fine venues. Since I lived on the south side of Chicago when I was a kid, I would drive home from Auditorium Theatre via LSD to I-55. I vividly remember the gray night sky with snow twinkling in the air from the light cast by the drive's light poles as the blustery wind buffeted my Ford Maverick -- all the while with LSD playing in the tape deck.

Hey, how about a Chicago-themed FCM where people pick songs that make them think about Chi-Town?

"Snow Days" Trip Shakespeare
Jane writes: It was Christmas Eve 1992, I had just finished my first semester of college and was returning to my hometown for the first time since I'd left. What was supposed to be a relaxing 2.5 hour drive through lazy, scenic roads straight down to the heart of Illinois turned into a 5 hour white knuckle adventure as horizontal snow gusts basically blew my car over a sheet of ice all the way home. I didn't even trust myself to take my hands off the steering wheel for a moment, so when this song came on, a relaxing little ditty about snow falling, I chose it as my theme for the remainder of my journey. I hit repeat, and it guided me safely towards my mother's pot roast.

Thanks, weird 90's band I never heard from again... thanks.

"Christmas with the Devil" Spinal Tap
James writes: "The elves are dressed in leather
And the angels are in chains"

The greatest fake band of all time-arguably better than many of the ultraserious NWOBHM bands of the day-are responsible for one of the greatest Yuletide songs ever. It's like, how much more red and green could this be? And the answer is none. None more red and green.

"Shooting Stars" Ozma
Justin Sid writes: While this is not very X-Mas themed it is cold weather friendly. Ozma is a band I fell into in high school one very cold winter, the same winter I saw them with Weezer shortly after the release of the Green album. Enjoy!

"Red Water (Christmas Mourning)" Type O Negative
Brian writes: "Let's face it...the holidays are equally joyous and depressing. And I don't know about you, but while I like my tunes a lot of ways I mostly like them sad. For whatever reason it's the sad ones, with a small sprinkle of hope, that make me feel warm and cozy on my insides. This, in turn, actually renders their depressing powers useless."

Can I add that I actually also really love Christmas music. My Dad put strict start/end dates on when my brothers and I were allowed to listen to the "Christmas with the Chipmunks". To my delight, my Mom plays John Denver and the Muppet's "A Christmas Together" every year. I had more than one VHS tape with Jon Bon Jovi's video of "Please Come Home for Christmas", and also that entire "A Very Special Christmas" album. The only time of year I really listen to any radio stations is during the Christmas months (maybe I should have left that one out)... Oh, and then there's, well...there's this...

"Christmas Time Is Here (instrumental)" Vince Guaraldi
Allison writes: This one's a bit of a nostalgic pick, from the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas (which also features "Linus and Lucy", the track most people recognize as THE Charlie Brown song). The vocal version more directly harkens the TV special, while the longer instrumental version makes me think of hot cocoa, a crackling fireplace, jammies, and cinnamon-scented candles at my family's house during the holidays.

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9.19.2008

FCM #11 - Dance Party

FCM #11 - DANCE PARTY I'm glad to see this mix come together organically and STILL include the "Cha Cha Slide." Admittedly, there are a LOT of different ways to dance and I'm sure you could go through most of them through the course of this mix. Don't miss Felix's link to "Partydance" which has been an office comedy favorite for some time. Click here to download the whole FCM #11 - Dance Party or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

We're voting again for next week's theme. Choose one or these. (1) Break Up Mixtape, (2) Planes, Trains & Automobiles, (3) Fight Songs

"Twistin' the Night Away" Sam Cooke - 1962
Felix writes: Really difficult time with this one. I don't tend to dance all that often (it's a rare thing for me, and usually only happens when I'm alone). While I was tempted to make my pick Ed Shepp's "Partydance", I decided to go with a more traditional pick: Mr. Sam Cooke.

"Genius of Love" Tom Tom Club - 1981
Sarah writes: I love funky dance parties! The first Wednesday of every month is Funk and Soul night at Danny's in Bucktown. The DJ duo Sheer Magic play the funkiest music ever recorded, and the tiny dance floor is packed with people who can't resist the beats! One of my favorite things - I look forward to it every month.

At first I had trouble narrowing it down to one song, but when I remembered 'Genius of Love,' the choice was clear. It speaks for itself. "Who needs to think when your feet just go?"

"Nobody Dances Anymore" Brandston - 2006
TJ writes: Well, this track is from the band Brandtson, a late high school/college fav of mine. This song is totally about people not dancing anymore so I figured it would fit perfectly. And it's always made my rump shake. Any for reals yo, please go check out the video. The whole thing is just people dancing to the song. Enjoy.

"Don't Leave Me This Way" Communards - 1985
Walt writes: Imagine a large ballroom dance floor with three dozen dancers in pink and champagne taffeta gowns with hoop-style skirts just rockin' out to this song ... well that's what I do.

"September" Earth, Wind and Fire - 1978
Margaret writes: I had never listened to funk music before I met Justin, but he's a big fan and now I'm hooked as well. We have a Saturday morning ritual where we blast funk music and dance around our living room like a couple of dorks, and this song is a standard on the playlist. It's impossible for me not to move to this song.

"Let's Pretend We're Married" Prince - 1983
James writes: Only Prince could pull off a line like this without taking a knee to the tenders:
"Excuse me but I need a mouth like yours
2 help me forget the girl that just walked out my door
Let's pretend we're married and do it all night"

"Paper Tiger" Spoon - 2002
Chris writes: I'm a big electro fan and there are a number of fantastic speaker-destroying tracks I thought I might like to include on this mix (see works from Justice, Boys Noize, Calvin Harris) but I decided to go with something more personal - hence this track from Spoon's Kill the Moonlight. When I first moved to Chicago I lived in a big, empty apartment in the Ukrainian Village for the first month and a half while waiting for a roommate. I had a chair, a desk, my computer, a bed, and a little TV stacked on a milk crate. I had no cable and no phone, and I didn't have a job either. I spent my time putting my portfolio together and doing a smattering of freelance work to keep myself alive. I didn't know a single soul in the city, but for that first month and a half it didn't really matter. I played my music loud, I became fascinated with Korean television (see: Age of Warriors), one of the few channels that I could get on my TV, and I sang and danced to break up the time I spent working away at my desk. I wore the grooves out (so to speak) on Kill the Moonlight, and Paper Tiger was the star of the show. I would stand up from my desk and shuffle around the bare living room whenever this song played, dancing a sort of soft shoe that seemed to perfectly fit the mood. Spoon have an acute minimalist's touch when it comes to instrumentation and they have perfected the science of finding just the bare essentials needed to create a beautiful song. Britt Daniel's closing lyric inspired daydreams of what the city might hold for me: someone to be with when I turned out the light.

"Strength Beyond Strength" Pantera - 1994
Brian writes: I was 14 years old when Pantera's Far Beyond Driven was released. I ditched school so I could get my hands on it immediately when the record store opened. My first listen was a magical one, and the thousands that followed were so inspiring and therapeutic to me in my youth. I still get chills when I hear it.

I was almost 15 when I saw Pantera live for the first time at The Aragon Ballroom in 1995. That was the first show I had ever been to like that, and I've never seen one like it since.

Just like the Far Beyond Driven CD, they opened up with Strength Beyond Strength. To this day, I have never seen a crowd move like they did at that moment. And I do mean the entire crowd...from front-to-back and side-to-side, that entire place was DAN-CING! I saw Pantera at least 5 more times after that show, and the reaction was nowhere near the same. Not your typical dance music I'm aware, but this is the dance music I grew up on.

"Cuttin' In" Chris Farlowe - 1966
Jane writes: Couples's skate time!! Oh my... hope I'm not the only slow dance in the mix this week.

Chris Farlowe is an incredible guilty pleasure of mine. Mostly known for very self-indulgent covers, it's a study in disbelief to listen to his music then find out that he LOOKS LIKE THIS!

"Beat Connection" LCD Soundsystem - 2002
Ben writes: Everybody here's afraid of fun. Dance-tastic. LCD Soundsystem opened their (2005) set in at The Metro with this song which (until that point) was never one of my favorites. The energy of that performance was like nothing i've experienced. I hear it in a different way now - and I LOVE it. I've listened countless times and nearly every time I bounce involuntarily, just like the crowd at The Metro and the drunk girl next to me who really wanted to grind... Yeow :(

"Wish" Ellen Allien - 2003
Allison writes: Ellen Allien is a kick-ass DJ from Berlin, and this super-danceable number, "Wish", is from her 2003 album Berlinette. The lyrics are at once oversimplistic and wistful, but the real star of the show are those shuddering, grinding (yet vaguely clinical) German beats. Yum!

"High Fidelity" Daft Punk - 1997
Nick writes: So I picked a Daft Punk song called "High Fidelity", which was featured on their first album, Homework. This predates their being robots by a few years. I picked this one because it seems like many people don't realize that Daft Punk had much of a career before Discovery beyond "Around the World". But their first album was and remains ridiculously influential in house music, especially among DJs, and it (along with, yes, "Around the World") gave them the popularity and money to turn into robots and record Discovery.

On Homework they called clicks 'n cuts with "High Fidelity" five years before Luomo and Akufen; they called progressive house with "Alive" three years before Sasha and Digweed; they recorded a synth line so ridiculous that they reprised it at the end of the album by playing it backwards, and it still managed to sound good.

This video of a rave in Milwaukee(!?) from 1994, three years before Homework came out, gives some good perspective. A few way-old Daft Punk tracks are duly chopped up and thrown in, but the majority of it is Detroit techno and acid house. Daft Punk have some interesting roots.

"21st Century Life" Sam Sparro - 2007
Justin writes: This Australian-Singer-Songwriter-Producer I discovered on one of my many internet surf-a-thons. Upon hopping website to website I fell upon this former child star's homepage and that's when I was entranced by this funktastic music video that immediately started playing without anyone's permission. Needless to say my ass began to shake. And then I got this stirring sensation in my legs and it quickly spread to my upper body. "My God!", I said to myself, "I can't stop the jive!"

That was a while ago, since then I've been plagued with the Chronic Jive. Every time this album plays my body is riddled with fits and vibrations. It's an overwhelming sensation that should not be under-whelmed. I recommend this song and album to everyone but listen at your discretion. You will not be able to stop the groove, funk, dance-pop, or jive. You know it, I know it, our asses know it. Enjoy!

"Whoo! Alright - Yeah... Uh Huh" The Rapture - 2006
Ben writes: This comes from The Rapture's second album, which is no where near as good as their first. I don't do a lot of dancing, but when this is on and I am home in my underwear I tend to gallop around a bit and enjoy myself.

"Casper Cha-Cha Slide (Live Platinum Band)" Casper & Col'Ta - 2000
Renata writes: I cannot dance. At all. Except to this lovely track. And by this track, I mean this exact version, which has played at every Junior High and High School dance I can remember … and almost every wedding I've ever attended. And I'm good. Real good. See you on the dance floor …

"Closer" Nine Inch Nails - 1994
Brian writes: I think it's pretty imperative that this band/song be in the mix.

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9.11.2008

FCM #10 - From the Movies

FCM #10 - FROM THE MOVIES Turn your cell phones and pagers off, we're headed to the cinema. We've got everything from Superman to Rosemary's Baby represented in this mix. Click here to download the entire FCM #10 - FROM THE MOVIES or hunt and peck below. If you like something or hate something or whatever, please make a comment! Some of these files are m4a format, so you should download them all with the link above or right click and save them to your machine.

Next week's Theme - Dance Party! That's right, bring out the most danceable tracks you've got. Doesn't have to be "dance" music, but it MUST be danceable!


"Superman - Prelude and Main Title March" John Williams - 1978
Walt writes: The theme to Superman - The Movie is one of my all time favorites. I still get chills every single time I hear it. I love the majesty and joy of it and its ability to get the blood pumping. And when I watch the movie, I'm amazed that a 26-year-old unknown actor was so completely able to master the duality of the Superman/Clark Kent relationship and portray two believable and distinct characters. So here's to you Christopher Reeve, you never gave up!

P.S. I have a photo of me with Christopher Reeve from 1980. I'll try and dig it up tonight.

"Going Up The Country" Canned Heat - 1968
Christine writes: Appears in: Woodstock: The Movie (the original one - Margaret) and in Meet The Fockers (1994). The song was also used in the "Northern Exposure" episode when Dr. Cappra was travelling to replace Dr. Joel Flieschman as the town doctor (thank you google!). Anyways, this is one of those songs that I remember listening to when I was a kid and it just made you feel good. I was recently reminded of it when my sister put it on a comp CD for me. The singer has a really interesting voice that you can't help but try to imitate (poorly) and it is one of the few songs where I really appreciate the addition of a flute to the musical lineup... if only there were cowbells too...

"Ain't No Sunshine" Bill Withers - 1971
Ben writes: From "Notting Hill." Yes, I love the Julia Roberts. This fantastic song is used in a great scene where a year passes while Hugh Grant walks through Notting Hill. I love that scene, and the song is just perfect for it.

"Kaze Wo Atsumete" Happy End - 2003
Felix writes: Though I've seen "Lost in Translation," I never really heard this song until Liz played it for me. It's one of her favorites and she can sing it all the way through, word for word (despite the fact that she has no idea what the lyrics mean). Personally, I love the key changes and the slow, rolling tempo throughout. For some reason, in trying to figure out how to best describe the happiness this song elicits: it's like having someone hand you a large sum of money, but in slow motion. Good stuff.

"Are You Ready For The Sex Girls?" Gleaming Spires - 1984
Jane writes: Wha wha WHAT??!!! This incredible song just happened to be nestled inside the most pivotal movie from my pre-adolescent years?? The one that convinced me it was not only OK, but COOL to be in Scholastic Bowl??! It's true. Not only nestled in, but MADE FOR. You can tell by the brainstorm-style lyrics that someone involved with the movie said "OK, so we need a song about the Omega Mu's coming over for their first mixer at the Nerds' frat house... Riff on it!"

This is a splendid work of art. A bit long, but just try to keep its catchy chorus out of your head for the days to come.

"Dead Already" Thomas Newman - 1999
Masha writes: Here's an arrangement by Thomas Newman for the American Beauty score. I first heard it on a mix tape (remember those?) played in the background of an hs art class. Enjoy!

"I'm Shipping Up To Boston" Dropkick Murphys - 2005
Ben writes: From "The Departed." I was so completely blown away by the film, the anxiety and energy of it, particularly in regards to DiCaprio's character as he gets deeper and deeper undercover. This song was just perfect for the film and it was also my ringtone for some time. My kids and I used to run around the house like crazies with this song blaring.

"Big Bad Wolf" Bunny and the Wolf Sisters - 1985
Justin writes: I had to include this classic. It is probably one of the most ridiculous songs ever created for a film. And one of the catchiest. I inspire you to drop what your doing and do the "Big Bad Wolf".

In case you need some inspiration...

"Less Than Zero" Glenn Danzig & the Power and Fury Orchestra - 1987
Jane writes: If you're ever playing "8 Degrees of Separation" and get stuck trying to connect 80's Brat Pack chump Andrew McCarthy with Misfits frontman Glenn Danzig, never fear because this sweet tidbit is the missing link that will save your hide. Believe me. That situation happens more than you're probably thinking it does.

Boasting over-production, female backing vocals, and general syrup, I'm positive that this concoction remains the ugliest of stepchildren in Danzig's catalogue, but MY GOD it's a guilty pleasure.

"Tommib" Squarepusher - 2001
Nick writes: Squarepusher's "Tommib" was featured on Lost in Translation. It's a short song, but very good - it doesn't need to do a whole lot to get the point across.

"Child Psychology" Black Box Recorder - 1999
Margaret writes: I am a huge Gilmore Girls fanatic. I love the quirky characters, the rapid dialogue and witty banter, and getting bombarded with hundreds of pop culture references in each episode - on a good day I'll catch about 1/3 of them. I got the soundtrack as a gift, and this has got to be one of the most obscure songs I've ever heard in my life - but totally fitting for the show. It surprises me that I like this song, but I find myself listening to it fairly often.

"Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Theme" Jon Brion - 2004
TJ writes: Jon Brion has made some very awesome soundtracks to some of my favorite films including this theme for the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He also did the "I Heart Huckabees" soundtrack. Check it out. Hope you like it.

"Hide and Seek" Imogen Heap - 2005
Justin writes: This is a song off the soundtrack of the film, The Last Kiss. For those not familiar with Imogen Heap she is one half of the group Frou Frou. And Frou Frou is well know for their song that was featured in another Zack Braff film, Garden State. Because I was a huge fan of the Garden State soundtrack, and Frou Frou it was easy for me to spot Imogen's track in The Last Kiss.

I saw her live around a year ago and she had an awesome performance. She talked a lot with the crowd and shared some of her stories, methods, and ways she made her music. This track is also featured on her album "Speak For Yourself" which is one of my favorite albums of all time. I love it, and I hope you do too. :)

"Mad World" Gary Jules - 2001
Allison writes: Is the end of the world nigh? Is the tangent universe near collapse? Hell if I know. Rent the Donnie Darko DVD for more on that note (however abstracted). More to the point, however, this is a Gary Jules heart-swelling cover of the Tears for Fears 1983 track "Mad World". The lyrics are gripping, sad, and -- especially these days -- immediate.

It's one of those three-minute gems I wish was twice as long. It plays and I wish it was playing me just a little bit longer.

"Simple Man" Graham Nash - 1971
Renata writes: I stumbled upon Graham Nash's Simple Man semi-recently while renting the movie Reign Over Me. As the opening scenes played, I remember being overcome by the song … it really spoke to me that day, having struck my mood just right. I was moved. I immediately jotted a few of the lyrics down on a Post-it with the intention to later Google them in hopes of finding the song title so I could then download the track.

I ended up watching the movie for a second time a few weeks later with my mom. As the song played, I told her how much I enjoy this song and, because of this movie, had downloaded and now play it regularly. Her smile widened. She was very familiar with the song and even had a few records from the various guys’s attempts at solo careers (which she immediately whipped out of storage from the family room)—one of which had Simple Man on it! It would up being a really neat bonding experience as mom shared stories of her various concert-goings and reminisced over her favorite artists and albums.

"Ben" Michael Jackson - 1972
Chris writes: Ben was a horror film released in 1972. Here's the synopsis:
A police detective investigating the death of a young man named Willard makes the shocking discovery that the victim was attacked and mutilated by a pack of rats. Ben, the leader of the pack, was Willard's pet, and now the nasty rodent has a new master.
The synopsis neglects to mention that the "new master" is actually a 10-year-old kid with an upper-register voice who cries when the pack of killer rats is decimated by the townspeople. (SPOILER ALERT! Ben survives.) Despite a dismal showing at the theaters, Ben managed to come away with an Academy Award Nomination. Why? Because Michael F'ing Jackson sang the theme song. A young, silver-tongued Michael Jackson who melted hearts with a song about a killer rat and sung for a horror film's end credits. It's a touching song and it makes me think of our very own Ben - Ben, you've got a friend in me.

As a final note, the fairly recent Crispin Glover film "Willard" was set up as a prequel to Ben. Here is Glover's video from the Willard DVD, featuring him singing the title song. It's a gem (and slightly NSFW, but whatever).

"Rosemary's Baby" Fantômas - 2001
"Experiment In Terror" Fantômas - 2001
Brian writes: Named after a super-villain from a series of old French crime novels, Fantomas are an endlessly unique and interesting band, featuring members of Faith No More, The Melvins, Slayer and Mr. Bungle. How could a lineup like that possibly go wrong? The answer is, it can't. In 2001, Fantomas released one of the greatest albums of all time, The Director's Cut. The Director's Cut is a 16-song album consisting of various movie theme songs. They are covers, but just barely. They really took the originals and put their own insane twist on them. I slowly narrowed down my selection from 16 to 2, and I just can't decide. So, I'm including 2 songs. These are the themes from "Experiment in Terror" and "Rosemary's Baby". Also, the band will be performing this album in it's entirety for the Don't Look Back series in December of 2008. For more info on that and a full track-listing, click here.

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6.08.2007

Get it straight or say goodnight

Greg Nelson (a friend of mine from high school) recently sent me a CD compilation as a part of this mix CD club thing that another of my HS friends started up. I could go on about that but i won't (it's been fun!). Greg's mix is great, and i've especially been enjoying this Stevie Wonder cover of The Beatles "We Can Work It Out." A funky reinterpretation of the original, straying just enough to add some soul/funk/freakness while keeping the integrity of this definitive Beatles track.
Stevie Wonder "We Can Work It Out"

iTunes ($)

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5.10.2007

I was shivering inside

I was reading this morning about the new Elliot Smith release, New Moon. Turns out the songs are mostly from the time when he released his self-titled LP and Either/Or. This got me rooting around for songs which led me to a treasure trove of live recordings, where i found a 1998 live performance that included his take on "Jealous Guy" which is pretty much the same as John Lennon's. For a couple of years i've really been into Donny Hathaway's version of it, which is really unique and soul-ish (and my favorite of the 3). I've posted them all for you!

John Lennon "Jealous Guy"

Elliot Smith "Jealous Guy (live, 1998)"

Donny Hathaway "Jealous Guy"
 

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4.25.2007

Nowadays, you don't mean dick to me

When i first heard "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse i was immediately and completely floored by the swaggering naughty new/old/soul, so much that it made my top 20 songs of 2006 list. The full record was less impressive to me at the time... then 3 weeks ago i'm waiting for justin at rodan, and i'm thinking "what is this great record they're playing" and after a bit i recognize it - Ms. Winehouse's Back To Black. Context changed everything for me, and now i'm listening and i can't stop. There are a few obvious "hits" on the record (rehab, you know i'm no good, back to black) but this post is my favorite of all of them. For me, it's the perfect juxtaposition of Winehouse's naughty raw drunken bad girl and the sweet old soul vibe of the production. Plus, i love the word "f#$kery."
Amy Winehouse "Me & Mr. Jones"

iTunes ($)

Jordan says i've been posting a lot of females. So i have. Next song will be a dude song.

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