Steinbeck on Random – 1.26.07

1. Atmosphere – “Jackpot/Swept Away”

No, I don’t have as many Atmosphere songs on Steinbeck as it appears. It just seems that whenever I shuffle it up for Random day, Atmosphere shows up, often with a song I’ve never heard before (or one that I don’t like).

I ended the December 11th Steinbeck on Random with Atmosphere, and I start the January 26th right where I left off – this time with a song off of the Headshots:Se7en album, which is an album of random mix tape songs or something. I dunno.

What I DO know is this: I hate when people spell “seven” with a numeral in place of the “v.” It’s dumb. It was clever when they used it for the first time in the Brad Pitt/Kevin Spacey film. It’s not anymore.

2. Tool – “Disposition”

I was at the peak of my Tool fandom when Lateralus came out, deeply entrenched in the brilliance of Ænima and all that it offered. I found Lateralus to be a disappointment – not because it was bad, but because it wasn’t Ænima. We’ve all gone through this, right? It happened with Radiohead’s Kid A – it was good, but it wasn’t OK Computer.

Of course, I never really cared for this song even when I did come to terms with the album. It’s too quiet – too “blah.” I want crazy drums and chunka-chunka and weird, introspective lyrics. Not naptime with Maynard.

3. Built to Spill – “Car”
There’s Nothing Wrong with Love

Well, duh. This is, like, one of the best songs ever. A Built to Spill classic, from the album that really positioned the band as an indie rock juggernaught.

Quick trivia: “Car” was the only “older” Built to Spill song included on their live album, Live. It’s that good.

4. Piebald – “Dirty Harry and the Thunderbolts”
If It Weren’t For Venetian Blinds, It Would Be Curtains For Us All

Oh Piebald. You and your quirky album titles and references to Naked Gun, Part 3 (which, I’ll have you know, was actually called Naked Gun 33 1/3. Big difference, Piebald.)

It never fails, when I hear Piebald, I say to myself, “This band is cute. They are funny and quirky and totally fun.” Then I stop taking them seriously and switch to another song. Just like I’d do with Architecture in Helsinki or P.E.E.

5. Piebald – “Rules for Mules”
If It Weren’t For Venetian Blinds, It Would Be Curtains For Us All

Uh. Didn’t we just hear this?

Okay, new iPod operating program. We need to talk.

Why have you started doing this? I have no problem with the Smart Shuffle feature, as your big brother iTunes calls it. Unfortunately, you seem to do this without any prompting. It happens at least once every time I shuffle your 7488 songs, and it’s always within the first 30 songs. You place two songs from the same album next to each other – a gentle poke at the effectiveness of the Shuffle feature.

It wouldn’t bother me, except it seems so random itself. Imagine thirty songs, all in a row on Shuffle. Twenty-eight of those songs will be completely random – from country to hip-hop to the indie darling of the week. But then, hidden in the midst of the randomness, is a pair you forgot to shuffle – two in a row from Billy Bragg’s B-sides collection, or two Beastie Boys songs from Hello Nasty.

I just want to know why you keep doing this.

6. The Decemberists – “My Mother Was a Chinese Trapeze Artist”
Five Songs

Songs from The Decemberists belong in two groups: songs I don’t really care about, and songs that tell an amazing, folkloric tale that is both captivating and beautiful.

This song fits into that second group. It’s the charm behind Colin Malloy’s pretentious, yet brilliant, wordplay. This is why I love the band.

7. Leadbelly – “Easy Rider”
Borgeois Blues

Whenever I listen to Leadbelly, I feel like I’m being transported back to the 1930s, when records were scratchy and digital re-mastering was still 55 years in the future. There’s an element of time travel involved in listening to these recordings. It’s strangely exhilarating.

I find this same feeling comes up whenever Woody Guthrie slots in. The somewhat poor quality gives it a human quality – one that makes the lyrics seem more real – more urgent and timely. These are the voices of the Depression, of World War II, of the quiet post-War era. And they’re being brought to us in the same way that they were recorded, as if they were created to be a time capsule in addition to their function as musical thought.

I’d take these recordings over any re-mastered, glossed up train wreck any day.

8. The Beatles – “I Am the Walrus”

Dear Fans,

John and I were talking the other day. We have come to the conclusion that most of you are taking us too seriously. I’m currently fascinated with the avant-garde movement, and John is becoming more political – yes, this is true. But the recent hubbub over our latest song, “I Am the Walrus,” is really too much.

I am not dead. We’re just on a lot of drugs. Please don’t read too much into it. Hell, we even let Ringo sing a song.

With love,

(With thanks to Bill Hicks for the Ringo joke.)

9. Sage Francis – “Eye of the Tiger”
Still Sick: Urine Trouble

Bare bones stuff from Sage Francis, who has lost a lot of stock in the past few months because, well, I’m tired of him showing up on my Shuffle. He’s fine. But, you know, whatever. I’m tired of him right now.

10. Air – “Cherry Blossom Girl”
Talkie Walkie

This, like most Air songs, is a tripped out, female vocalized song that seems comfortable in the background of a foreign language film. You know, at the part where the sultry French woman looks longingly over at the sophisticated Italian gentleman, blowing smoke rings through her nose. She then slowly pulls out a gun, shooting her supposed beau in the heart, thus ending any romance that could have been kindled.

Well. Maybe that’s too much. But it does sound like foreign film music.

This was lovingly handwritten on January 26th, 2007