Steinbeck on Random – 9.7.07

Seriously. It’s about time. Let’s shuffle.

1. Cursive – “Mothership, Mothership, Do You Read Me?”
Burst and Bloom EP

I love Cursive. It’s no surprise. And this EP was the bridge between, “Boy, that last album was amazingly good!” and, “Holy shit. These guys are for real.”

It’s a dynamic song – one of the best on the album, and one of the best in the Cursive canon – about spaceships or the birth process or something like that. I’ve never really figured out the lyrics. I’ve just rocked out.

2. The Roots – “The Next Movement (live)”
The Roots Come Alive

So, like, the whole reason The Roots kill everyone in the coolness department is that they’ve created a pretty sweet array of mainstream hip hop that has three incredible differences from the usual lame gangsta/party rap genres.

1. They are their own backing band. They’re not completely dependent on DJ loops and old, forgotten and ironic period pieces.

2. Their lyrics mean something, either socially or metaphorically.

3. One of the members of the band spells his name with a question mark.


3. Hank Williams – “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”
The Ultimate Collection

I’m not all that lonesome, so I can’t relate.

That being said, I haven’t listened to much of the “oldster country guy” category that sparsely litters Steinbeck’s music library. Usually, when I’m in the mood for something like this, I turn to either the newer stuff (Cub Country, Rumbleseat) or I dial it back to Woody Guthrie. So Hank’s sat a little despondent, forgotten and sad.

No wonder he’s so lonely.

4. Snapcase – “Caboose”
Progression Through Unlearning

Snapcase was always really good at that guitar technique that made the echoic “KOO KOO KOO” noise. And their snare drum sounded like it was about to break at the end of every song.

I loved these guys in high school. Now they simply hold a place in my most nostalgic of memories. Is there any title that better represents the late 90s attitude of “FTW! YOU CAN’T TELL US WHAT TO DO! FIGHT CONVENTION!” hardcore punk than Progression Through Unlearning?


5. Simon and Garfunkle – “The Boxer”
Greatest Hits

“The Boxer.” A great song.

The real story, though, is the awesome Gallagher costume that Paul Simon wears on the cover of the Greatest Hits album. I always laugh, and I always wonder what John McEnroe is doing hanging out with that lame watermelon-smashing comic.

I mean, look at this.

Gallagher. Paul Simon.

John McEnroe. Art Garfunkle.

6. Iron & Wine – “Such Great Heights”
Such Great Heights

So I discovered the other day that Iron & Wine is really just one person – some hippie looking singer/songwriter that happens to sing a little huskily and play guitar. This is a cover of a The Postal Service song, which is funny because I also have a cover of The Shins playing We Will Become Silhouettes.

This just in. The Such Great Heights single, in fact, contained a rarity in the record industry – two covers by two other bands on the actual original band’s single.: The Shins and Iron & Wine. So The Postal Service did Such Great Heights. And Iron & Wine covered it. And The Shins covered a different The Postal Service song. And it was all on the same album.

I happen to have different source CDs – The Shins cover is on a Believer Music Issue disc, and the Iron & Wine cover was released as its own single. So really, it’s not that funny at all – they were all on the same disc. Neat.

7. The Postal Service – “We Will Become Silhouettes”
Give Up

This is how Steinbeck fucks with me. By playing a song I was just talking about. Just to think it can read my mind.

Shuffle my ass.

8. Bad Religion – “American Jesus”
Recipe for Hate

The story goes like this.

I was once in a band. It turns out that everyone that was in the band had incredible talent. Yet, at the time, none of them had actually harnessed it, allowing it to wander all over the place under the guise of pseudo-punk rock. Eventually, the band broke up and the musicians went on their own ways to hone their skills and become phenomenal musicians. The vocalist – me – retired from music and became a writer.

When we were a band, we had five names. The name changes, however much we considered it, never made us much better as a band.

We covered “American Jesus.” That is our story.

9. Modest Mouse – “Baby Blue Sedan”
Building Nothing out of Something

Modest Mouse. I like them a lot.

Apparently, this song was supposed to be included on the Lonesome Crowded West album, and was if you purchased the LP version. I didn’t have a record player. Of course, I didn’t listen to Modest Mouse much when either of these releases came out, so it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. I like this song a lot, for the record.

The best part about listening to Modest Mouse on CD is that you can’t tell how drunk Isaac Brock is. And it doesn’t suck.

10. R.E.M. – “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”

How can anyone hate this album? I don’t get it. I always liked it.

We all know the story about the song. Dan Rather and all.

But yeah, listen to this a few times. If you’re an R.E.M. fan, you’ll miss the days when the band actually put out original music that didn’t sound like mall bathroom muzak.

If you’re not an R.E.M. fan, then you wouldn’t like it anyway. What are you listening to it for?

This was lovingly handwritten on September 7th, 2007