Steinbeck on Random — 7.21.06

I’ve been lucky so far. Nothing embarrassing has come up. No Supertramp. No Debbie Gibson. No U2. Nothing that I’m ashamed to say I have on my iPod.

Whoops. I just said it, didn’t I?


1. “What’s Golden” – Jurassic 5
Power in Numbers

Thanks to a mix CD from our friend Mary, I was introduced to the new wave of Jurassic 5. This was one of the singles from their sophomore full-length and serves as the best song from the album. Without question, it harkens back to old school hip-hop, and for that reason I’ve always clung to this as one of my favorites in the genre.

2. “Back to Hell” – Alkaline Trio

Classic Alkaline Trio to begin with, new Alkaline Trio as it moves along. Back to Hell, the best song from the newest album, is simply amazing – easily pushing out old favorites to rest with the top five in the Alkaline Trio catalog. In fact, I’ve gushed on this before while documenting my change in punk rock tastes and sensibilities:

I appreciate the macabre way the lyrics are spelled out more, and I appreciate the fact that their sound is so clean and crisp. I especially appreciate “Back to Hell,” where Dan and Matt trade lines in one of my favorite choruses yet. Crimson has re-awoken my interest in Alkaline Trio the same way Caution did for Hot Water Music.

3. “Rest Assured” – Hot Water Music
Forever and Counting

And speak of the devil – here’s Hot Water Music! Forever and Counting is by far the best album recorded by this Gainesville group (and #8 on my all-time personal list). But this song always escapes me when I think about the album as a whole. It’s good, but it’s so easily missed – simply put, it’s a decent song amidst the roar of classics. For that reason, I can rarely even place the song when the title comes up.

4. “In the Cold Cold Night” – The White Stripes

Sure, Meg White is a sub-par drummer. Oh well – The White Stripes still manage to package energy into their two-minute songs regardless of the off-kilter beat. It’s a treat, though, when Meg vocalizes. It gives Jack White’s harsh guitars a bit of sensuality. It’s good for him, like eating your vegetables is good for you.

5. “Without Fire” – 764-HERO
Weekends of Sound

764-HERO, named after the highway help-signs in and around Seattle, remains more of a nostalgia trip than an actual musical experience. They attempt the rainy-day indie that Built to Spill and Modest Mouse have already perfected, but they do it in a way that makes it more sleepy, more unnoticeable and ignorable. They do, however, capture the feeling of Seattle on a rainy day – which according to popular knowledge is every day. So I enjoy hearing them for that, even if I never bother pulling the CDs out and listening to them on their own.

6. “Above You Below Me” – Badly Drawn Boy
About A Boy

So Badly Drawn Boy wrote a soundtrack for Nick Hornby’s About A Boy – well, more specifically, the movie of the book, staring Hugh Grant. And it was a good movie – Nick Hornby’s got a way of writing books that translate to film rather well (High Fidelity, the original Fever Pitch and, in a way, the more recent baseball-themed Fever Pitch). The soundtrack matches the feel perfectly, just like a soundtrack should. This song is on the soundtrack. It’s good, like the movie. Discuss.

7. “Suite-Pee” – System of a Down
System of a Down

I always forget I have System of a Down on my iPod. I recognize the beginning of this song from something on radio or television, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is.

8. “Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors” – Radiohead

By far the worst song on a very good b-side-esque album. I just don’t like it.

9. “Until 6pm” – Office
Q & A

Fellow blogger (and former boss) Dave turned me on to Office – a band so unknown that All Music Guide hasn’t even created a band page for them. Not to be confused with “The Office,” a hit television show on NBC, Office is an infectiously good indie rock band that combines the energy of Franz Ferdinand with a musical scaffolding stolen from bands like the Talking Heads or older Blur. Now, I never claim to be that knowledable about what’s new and hip in music, so finding new bands that are great is usually no surprise – it happens all the time. But this band is a surprise in that they’re great. They’re better than great. And no one knows about them. They’re being forced to walk the Clap Your Hands And Say Yeah/Tapes N’ Tapes route, creating their own buzz and hoping enough people stop and listen and pass the word along.

If you haven’t heard Office yet, you need to seek some out and listen. Love it. It’s great. Good luck finding it, though – it’s one of the most difficult things to search out. Just go to the website linked above and listen on their website.

10. “So Soon” – Seven Storey Mountain
Based on a True Story

The Foo Fighters comparisons aside, Seven Storey Mountain was one of my favorite “lesser” emo bands of the late 90’s. By “lesser,” I mean “bands that weren’t widely known, didn’t release many albums, and never headlined a show outside of their hometown.” This song was from their surprise EP (I had thought they’d broken up!) and is full of dark energy – the evil side of emo, I guess.

This was lovingly handwritten on July 21st, 2006