Saturday, December 11, 2004

18th Dye: My Forgotten Favorites

18th Dye were a German trio who made some of the most beautiful noise of the 1990s. The band, signed by Matador Records at the encouragement of Yo La Tengo, released two albums and an EP with that label. Of these, the band's noisy debut, Done, is available through Rhapsody as is the highly-recommended Crayon EP. Their swan-song LP, Tribute to a Bus, is sadly missing from the service.

Despite making great music with a back story that seemed tailor-made for the music press, 18th Dye never hit the big time in the U.S. Hardly made the small time, in fact. But they did leave a musical legacy for anyone who likes off-kilter melodic guitar skronk with dreamy vocals. This playlist includes some of my favorites, including my Rhapsody re-discovery of the week, the song "Ray." Enjoy!

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Charlatans: a look back

I've been on an early 90s kick over the past couple of months, digging through my music collection to pull out old mixtapes and discs and soak in the glory. In the process, I've been listening to a lot of music from The Charlatans. While their later releases leave me cold, their early albums Some Friendly, From 10th to 11th, and Up to Our Hips are some of the most frequently-listened to in my collection. Anyway, I put together a Charlatans playlist earlier this week and thought you'd enjoy it. Click here to check it out.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Best Songs of 2004

I decided to put together this playlist of what I thought were some of the Best Songs of 2004. Admittedly, there was no particular set of criteria used to judge. Really, the only thing these songs have in common is that each spoke to me enough upon listening to earn heavy rotation on my laptop Rhapsody, iPod, or car stereo.

Absolute dominance would be an understatement if you were describing Usher's impact on the charts this year -- where it seemed you could not go to a sake bar, club, sporting event, graduation or bar mitzvah without hearing "In the club with the homies!" And who would have thunk a neo-gospel infused hiphop joint like "Jesus Walks" would get such crazy burn on the radio or MTV? Such was the influence of Kanye West on popular music this year. If heart-tugging vocals was your flavor in 2004, then you must have appreciated the sheer musicality of Alicia Keys' "If I Aint Got You" the ubiquity of "Wedding Song of the Year" front-runner "The Reason" by Hoobastank, or the soulfully alternative melodies of Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved." America listened intently as the Big Snoop Dizzle flowed with what was easily the catchiest hiphop cut of the year, the Neptunes-produced ode to tongue clicking, "Drop It Like It's Hot" and pure pop magic was achieved with Mrs. Federline's "Toxic."

Whatever your tastes, I hope you enjoy - and maybe even agree -with the selection of songs on this playlist. If not, there's always 2005!


Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Song of the day: Jimmy Eat World/"Polaris"

Thanks to my friend Jon for pointing this song out. Jimmy Eat World's last album, and more specifically the song "The Middle," was so overplayed that I failed to give their most recent album a good listen. The song "Polaris" marries the band's emo sound with big, droney British-sounding guitars. The first song I listened to today....enjoy!

Best of 2004: Songs I Missed

A friend sent me this playlist of their favorite songs of 2004, including several bands I'd never heard of (Dogs Die in Hot Cars, Hope of the States), a few I'd heard about but never actually heard (TV on the Radio), and some songs that were straight-up omissions from last week's playlist of the best songs of 2004, most notably Beck's "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes" from the soundtrack for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That song is so meeeeeellllllllow. Great list!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Song of the day: Stellastarr*/Homeland

I really missed the boat on Stellastarr*. Their self-titled 2003 debut flew by my stereo with no notice, and it was only this year that I began to hear anything about them. The song Homeland, which marries Robert Smith-like vocals with chimy, jangly guitars and melodic bass that recall the best of early 90s indiepop, is from that album and is also on the highly recommended NY: the Next Wave compilation. I've played it four times already this morning. I think you'll like it.

All Mixed Up: DJs vs. the Holidays

Over the weekend we added one of my favorite new releases, Holiday Lounge, an album featuring vintage holiday tunes by Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Mel Torme and many other artists remixed by DJs like Dan the Automator, Q-Burns Abstract Message and Kaskade. If you're tired of the same old chestnuts being trotted out ad infinitum between Thanksgiving and Christmas and you're looking for something more funky for your holiday party, then this album may be for you. Enjoy.

Monday, December 06, 2004

80's Covers

Everyone has a "Best of the 80s" playlist, but this is much more interesting. It contains some of the 80s most memorable songs as performed by other artists. Includes remakes of Come on Eileen, Tainted Love, I Ran (So Far Away), Down Under, The Boys of Summer, When Doves Cry, Whisper To A Scream (Birds Fly), Always Something There to Remind Me, Mexican Radio, Turning Japanese, Take on Me and a ton more. Check it out.

(Via: Rhapsody Radish)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Song of the day: Seafood/"Pleasurehead"

Sadly, British band Seafood flew far, far under the radar in the U.S. The band's wonderful first album, Surviving the Quiet, was released first on UK indie Fierce Panda and then picked up in the U.S. by Sony. Their follow-up, When Do We Start Fighting..., was recorded by Girls vs. Boys frontman Eli Janney and released in 2002 by Nettwerk. While I loved Seafood's first album (the single "Led By Bison" is one of my favorite songs from the last 5 years), their second album landed with a thud, and aside from the song "People Are Underestimated" didn't make much of an impression with me at the time. Boy, was I wrong. This weekend I picked up a copy in the bargain CD bins at Amoeba Records in San Francisco, and for the first time heard the song "Pleasurehead." It's a slow build but well worth the time. Enjoy.

Stereolab: ABC Music

Stereolab's ABC Music, just added to Rhapsody this week, was my personal favorite for record of the year in 2003. The 2-disc set compiles the band's live performances for the BBC between 1991 and 2001, chronicling in the process the evolution of their sound from drone-rock in the early and mid-1990s to futuristic laptop lounge in the early part of this decade. From their stunning take on the mellow "Changer" to the delightful "Heavenly Van Halen" (released as "Pinball" on their 1996 Fluorescences EP), ABC Music perfectly captures Stereolab's grooving live sound. If you're a fan of any of the band's music, this collection is a must-listen/must-own.