Wednesday, February 25, 2009

2:30 and Counting...

After going through our playlists, we realized that there are a lot of songs less than 2:30 or less than 3:00 for that matter (hence narrowing it down to 2:30). But yes, there will be a lot of glaring omissions, especially on my part (i.e. me not including Elastica's "Connection" or "Stutter").


Elastica - "Connection" (1994) [2:20]
The beginning sounds almost robotic in a way... I dig the little "dvuuu" sound effects starting at the 20 second mark - it sounds like the Death Star powering up. I'm a huge Justine Frischmann fan because she just oozes bravado. Her singing has real character and that's rare (though her mystique has been knocked down a few notches after finding out she now lives in Colorado and married an American... booo). This song is also going on my Best Music Video list. Their self-titled record is littered with awesome <2:30 songs.

Elliott Smith - "Somebody That I Used To Know" (2000) [2:09]
I generally steer clear of acoustic, folk-y crap (I'm looking at you, Fleet Foxes!), but this features some nimble string-plucking by Smith and while it starts off gently, it eventually develops an unusual urgen
cy. I wonder if he could play both lead and rhythm parts like Lindsey Buckingham's live version of "Big Love."

The Go! Team - "Hold Yr Terror Close" (2004) [2:21]
I used 2 words to describe this song in my old blog that bears repeating: delicate and winning. It's so childlike it's practically a lullaby. It also sports a fine collection of lyrics, even if I don't understand the meaning of it all. "Why should we all be alone?" "But wait until tomorrow morning, learning to be you is what hurts most. Close your eyes and hold yr terror close." I want to hold Chi Fukami Taylor's hand when I hear this song, but not in any kind of romantic way... honest!

Of Montreal - "My British Tour Diary" (2004) [2:19]
Nice energy, simple lyrics, catchy melody... borders on being twee but not quite. Really captures all
the elements of a great short song - just this refreshing burst of music. Ending seems out of place, like an entirely different song. A Bizarro version of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out," if you will.

The Pipettes - "The Burning Ambition Of The Early Diuretics" (2006) [1:48]
The angelic cascade of "love love love love"s. 'Nuff said. Debut album also a <2:30 gold mine.

Architecture In Helsinki - "Wishbone"
The Like Young - "Even If It's Getting Late"
Neko Case - "Tightly" (great lyric: "don't you try and stop me, I cling tightly to this life")
Spoon - "Anything You Want"
Wheat - "Slow Fade"


Rancid - "Time Bomb" (1995) [2:24]
By far my favorite Rancid song and part of the punk-ska revival of the 90s including the Offspring (do they count?) For some reason, I can't think of "Timebomb" without thinking of Buck-O-Nine's
one hit wonder "My Town".

Hot Hot Heat - "Goodnight Goodnight" (2005) [2:12]
Catchy tune I believe I caught from Seattle's the end 107.7 on-line a few years back. Now that I'm stuck in LA - I do or did have the luxury of listening to indie 103.1 here before they unfortunately shut down (the economy spares no one).

The Smiths - "Girlfriend in a Coma" (1987) [2:02]
Though my favorite Smiths song would have to be "Ask", I've always enjoyed this little diddy as well. There's a clever juxtaposition of what the Moz is actually singing and the feathery, airy touch of Marr's guitar playing.

Death Cab for Cutie - "Sound of Settling" (2004) [2:12]
I'll be the first to tell you that I know very little about this band other than they are from A. from the Pacific NW B. They have been around for a while and have a loyal fan base C. They blew up when the Pacey character from Dawson's Creek, I mean the guy from the OC started to reference them (A, B, C also applies to The Shins, except substitute him with Natalie Portman in Garden State) D. Transatlanticism was their "break-through" album E. There are still a lot of people wondering if there is going to be another Postal Service album and F. A currently malnourished-looking Ben Gibbard is engaged to s-t's lady love Zooey Deschanel.

Weezer - "Why Bother?" (1996) [2:08]
Ok this is where Weezer went wrong in terms of selling Pinkerton to the mass appeal back in '96. I personally believe (a la Miss Teen USA 2007) that "Why Bother?" should have been the first single released, not "El Scorcho". So if we follow Blue album's suite: "Undone", "Buddy Holly" and "Say it Ain't So"; the release order should have then been: "Why Bother?" then "The Good Life" then "El Scorcho". "El Scorcho" is slow, a little quirky and a drunken sing-along just like "Say it Ain't So" but they thought that El Scorcho's tempo and feel were more in tune with "Undone" and wanted to capitalize on the same success of "Undone". But that's where I disagree; "Why Bother?" was a slam dunk, college radio friendly, pure pop perfection that would have propelled this band to to the top and earned the credit they deserve at that moment in time and not 4-5 years later as a cult hit. By then it was too late, 1/2 of the creative team had already left (see: Matt Sharp) and they have only been a former shadow of themselves since.

The Cranberries - "Salvation"
The Strokes - "12:51" (check out their Tron-esque video)
Smashing Pumpkins - "Bye June"
The Go Team - "Hold Yr Terror Close" (I enjoyed their Coachella 2006 performance)
Vampire Weekend - "A-Punk"

Friday, February 20, 2009

80s Female Vocals


The Bangles - "I'll Set You Free" (1988)
Perhaps it was the allure of Susanna Hoffs, but the Bangles are pretty much the definitive 80s band for me. I picked this over their big-time hits because there's a little more goin' on... the vocal harmonies, the squiggly guitar solo, and the "ad-libbing" Susanna does to close out the song.

The Go-Go's - "Our Lips Are Sealed" (1981)
Our Lips Are Sealed vs Head Over Heels. ¿Quien as mas macho? My favorite part of either song is 0:23 into HOH where Belinda Carlisle snarls the "I" in "I must be losin' it." Both have fantastic bass lines. HOH has the super-catchy keyboard intro (the solo is a tad lame though), but ultimately I find the melody too sugar-y, much like the Bangles' "Manic Monday." Then there are the bridges - OLAS has the bass + Jane Wiedlin while HOH has the bass + hand claps. I'm going with Jane. The Fun Boy Three cover is nice too.

Heart - "These Dreams" (1985)
I much prefer 80s Heart to classic rock Heart. I really like the several moments during the song where Ann Wilson sings the harmony vocal BEFORE Nancy Wilson comes in with the lead vocal (usually it's the other way around, yeah?).

Joan Jett - "Bad Reputation" (1980)
Compared to the other songs on this list, this one is a relatively recent discovery, as the theme song for the dearly-departed Freaks & Geeks. Joan Jett has an iconic voice, powerful and gritty yet sexy. I love the staccato drums and hope to Rock Band it someday.

Scandal - "The Warrior" (1984)
I have fond memories of this old school Charles Barkley highlight video. I wish I could pull off singing this at karaoke.

Honorable mentions:
The Pretenders - "Back On The Chain Gang"; reminds me of Larry Fishburne & co in Cadence. BTW, I don't know why I like that movie.
Blondie - "Tide Is High"


Scandal (Patty Smyth) - "Goodbye to You" (1982)
Suprisingly, I actually came across the song only recently. I think a common thread shared amongst all the songs in this group are all the catchy bass lines, except maybe "Only You'.

The Go-Go's - "Head over Heels" (1984)
Originally I went with my long time favorite "Vacation" but this is a 'spite' pick against Shao-tai since he thinks "Our Lips are Sealed" is more worthy than "Head over Heels". How can you beat the catchy piano intro and the irresistable bass break-down. However I can do without Belinda's 80s dancing in the video. She redeems herself in another video (see below).

Yazoo - "Only You" (1982)
I can't recall if this was part of a group of "slow songs" that were played at Chinese Youth Camp over the summers along with the slow version of Alphaville's "Forever Young", Chris De Burgh's "Lady in Red", etc. The only other tidbit I can share was a cover of this by the Flying Pickets made it as the end song of Wong Kar-Wai's "Fallen Angels" (US Version).

Belinda Carlisle - "Mad about You" (1986)
Props to Belinda for her continued success in her Solo career. She's pretty breathtaking in this video. I think I even owned a pair of those 80s shades that she wears.

The Pretenders - "Don't Get Me Wrong" (1986)
Don't worry, I will find a place to include "Back in the Chain Gang". Simply catchy: the jangly bass and Chrissie Hynde's playful vocals. Lily Allen's cover isn't too shabby either.

Honorable Mentions:
The Bangles - "Eternal Flame", "Manic Monday"
Blondie - "Tide is High"
Heart - "Alone" (I don't watch American Idol, I swear I don't, but I did see an impressive clip of Carrie Underwood singing this)
Fleetwood Mac - "Everywhere" (Check out Vampire Weekend's decent cover)
Pat Benatar - "We Belong"
Swing Out Sister - "Breakout"