“Chris’ Mix (Vol. 2): Music I Discovered in 2009” – Playlists on Parade

By Chris Moore:

In April 2009, I decided to put together a playlist for a friend, one which would represent my favorite music that I had discovered since I began paying close attention to new music, as well as expanding my range of interests.  This had all started in the middle of my first year of teaching; now that I made a regular salary, I realized I could budget out enough money for regular music purchases.  So, it all started in January 2008 with Ringo Starr’s Liverpool 8.  I would have bought that album anyway, but I went on to buy albums that I never would have paid much attention to in the past.  Some, like R.E.M.’s Accelerate, are albums that I consider to be among the best of all time.

I’m glad I didn’t miss them!

Now, of course, there were many mediocre (and worse) albums along the way, but in the end, this decision has been fruitful.  I look forward with excitement to each “New Music Tuesday,” waiting to receive the Newbury Comics newsletter in my inbox.  Many weeks, there is music that piques my interest, and I set off on the journey to pick it up and listen.

I will feature this first playlist of 2008 music on next week’s edition of “Playlists on Parade,” but I felt the strong urge to start with my latest playlist.  This is a collection of songs that I discovered in 2009, either because they were released that year, were recommended to me, or I stumbled upon them.  I hope you enjoy the brief liner notes and consider picking some of these up!

1)  “Got Some” – Pearl Jam

This is the song I thought should have been the lead-off track on their 2009 album Backspacer.  I first heard it performed live on the first-ever Late Night with Conan O’Brien show, and I was head-over-heels for it from the first snare shots.  The studio version didn’t disappoint, and thus, it’s the lead-off track for this playlist.

2)  “Wilco (the song)” – Wilco

I’ll admit it:  I laughed when I first heard this song performed live on the Colbert Report, but I simply fell in love with the album version.  The band is clearly so comfortable with themselves that this very direct, very cheesy statement comes across as consoling and encouraging.  I needed it last year, and I continue to sing along every time.

3)  “Help Me, Suzanne” – Rhett Miller

I vividly remember hearing this song for the first time on Mike Fusco’s iPhone.  He was playing this because it was a song he had to share.  He had heard it on the Hollister store soundtrack, and I was surprised by just how good it was.  How could such excellent music slip by unnoticed?  Well, Mike noticed it, and I picked up the album shortly after.  There are a couple other great songs, but although the album is enjoyable, there’s no song that competes with this gem.

4)  “Singing Joy to the World” – The Fruit Bats

This is one of the most stripped down performances on the Fruit Bats’ brilliant 2009 album The Ruminant Band.  You just don’t hear too many ballads like this one, and I’m hooked on the lyrics and melody every time I listen.

5)  “Part of It” – Relient K

Why this song wasn’t released as a single from 2009’s Forget and Not Slow Down, I’ll never know.  It is easily one of the best performances on the album, and it is one of my favorite Relient K songs of all time.  My favorite line?  Gotta be: “I’m the Cusack on the lawn of your heart.”  Now THAT is a metaphor for the ages!

6)  “Jonathon Fisk” – Spoon

Mentioned in an email by former student Geoff Troup less than a month before the New Year, I set out to hear Spoon’s Kill the Moonlight before their scheduled 2010 release of Transference (which is fantastic, by the way).  I realized I did know “That’s the Way We Get By,” probably from watching The O.C. with my sister.  (Did I just admit that in an official post?  Wow.)  The album was a bit odd to me at first, but after a few listens, I couldn’t get enough of their unique style.  “Jonathon Fisk” is among the best, and I hold a special place in my heart for this track since I learned it for a recent Laptop Session.

7)  “The Mob Goes Wild” – Clutch

Clutch came highly recommended by my colleague Dan O’Brien, and although I liked Blast Tyrant very much (so much that it just missed charting on my favorite 50 albums of the decade list), “The Mob Goes Wild” immediately stood out from the rest.  It is one of those songs for which you feel compelled to learn the lyrics so you can competently sing along.  It also adds a nice, harder edge to this playlist that balances out the quieter tracks.

8)  “Cornerstone” – The Arctic Monkeys

Like “Singing Joy to the World,” I instantly fell in love with the story told in this song.  Not only did I listen with rapt attention that first listen, but I was fascinated by the instrumental and vocal blend.  “Cornerstone” is a wonderfully quirky, hauntingly skeevy, and addictively entertaining track, one that softened my distaste for the Arctic Monkeys,’ an opinion I had based on their early work.

9)  “Life of a Thousand Crimes” – Echo & the Bunnymen

If you believed the critics that write for the major music magazines, you would have ignored the 2009 release (The Fountain) that yielded this Echo & the Bunnymen gem.  McCulloch’s vocals are in gritty, perfect form for leading this upbeat romp.

10)  “Peacemaker” – Green Day

There were so many standout tracks on Green Day’s 2009 album 21st Century Breakdown that it was difficult to choose just one for this playlist.  Overall, though, “Peacemaker” is one of the most instrumentally and vocally interesting, not to mention one of the catchiest.  When I recorded my Laptop Session cover song version of this track, it certainly gave me a workout as I figured out how to fit in all the vocals and still breathe!

11)  “Cream and Bastards Rise” – Harvey Danger

Remember “Flagpole Sitta”?  Well, it seems that this is about the only Harvey Danger song that anyone remembers.  And it’s a shame because 2005’s Little by Little… is an outstanding disc, one that featured this catchy, killer performance of their lead single.  (And, sadly, they’re so right!)

12)  “Jocelyn” – Kevin Hearn & Thin Buckle

If you liked the hidden track on the Barenaked Ladies’ 2000 album Maroon, then Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle are for you.  This, as you may have guessed, is Hearn’s side project, and their second album (2004’s Night Light) yielded this beautiful little song.  After the frenetic buildup of “Peacemaker” and “Cream and Bastards Rise,” I thought this was the perfect track to relax on before “Got Some” returns again for another go-round.

“Driving to the Beach” – Playlists on Parade

By Chris Moore:

I can’t believe it’s been over a year now since I compiled this playlist…

…but I couldn’t be happier to greet the warm summer days once again!

I first put together this 19 song sequence for Mike’s birthday, in honor of the fact that he loves driving to the beach.  I went online to map the distance between his house and the beach, and made this playlist within a minute of the estimated travel time.

Now, it should come as no surprise to those of you who know either myself or Mike that this list is populated by multiple Beach Boys songs.  In fact, I think the most difficult part of this process was deciding which Beach Boys songs to include, so synonymous is their music with summer and the beach.

The playlist has a great range of music, though, ranging from Johnny Cash’s take on “That Lucky Old Sun” to a track from Brian Wilson’s 2008 That Lucky Old Sun record, Warren Zevon to Weezer, and McCartney to Modest Mouse.

So, if you’re heading out to beach this summer, consider taking these songs along for your ride.  After all, I not only gave this list as a gift, but I’m also a listener!

1. “Good Day Sunshine” – the Beatles

2. “Beach Ball” – Roger McGuinn

3. “Slip on Through” – the Beach Boys

4. “Venice Beach (Narrative) – Brian Wilson

5. “See Your Sunshine” – Paul McCartney

6. “Island in the Sun” – Weezer

7. “Girls on the Beach” – the Beach Boys

8. “Sunshine All the Time” – Jeff Foskett

9. “Pacific Ocean Blue” – Dennis Wilson

10. “Oceans” – Pearl Jam

11. “Catch a Wave” – the Beach Boys

12. “I’ll Follow the Sun” – the Beatles

13. “The Rosarita Beach Café” – Warren Zevon

14. “Sunflowers” – Everclear

15. “Summer Means New Love” – the Beach Boys

16. “Ocean Breathes Salty” – Modest Mouse

17. “Soulful Old Man Sunshine” – the Beach Boys

18. “Cold Day in the Sun” – Foo Fighters

19. “That Lucky Old Sun (Just Rolls Around Heaven All Day)” – Johnny Cash

Summer Songs – Playlists on Parade

By Chris Moore:

As the summer months draw to a close, I figured it was about time to share my summer themed playlist.  What follows are twenty-five songs that celebrate the warmest season of the year, either in name or in spirit.

I’ve included the classics, like “Summer in the City” and “Hot Fun in the Summer Time,” as well as lesser known gems like America’s “Indian Summer” and the Prelude era Moody Blues track “Long Summer Days.”

Just for fun, I’ve thrown in “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and I’ve made sure to update the list with the best song about summer to be released in years, the Barenaked Ladies’ “Summertime”

So, there’s a little bit of everything:  retro classics (Mungo Jerry), all-out rock (the Who), indie (Dashboard Confessional), acoustic (Jack Johnson), dated eighties pop (Miami Sound Machine), rap (DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince), and songwriter rock (Bob Dylan).

From me to you, I hope this’ll help you to keep on keepin’ the summer alive!

1)  “Indian Summer” – America

2)  “Summertime” – Barenaked Ladies

3)  “All Summer Long” – The Beach Boys

4)  “Summertime Blues” (Live) – The Who

5)  “Summer Skin” – Dashboard Confessional

6)  “Banana Pancakes” – Jack Johnson

7)  “It Must Be Summer” – Fountains of Wayne

8)  “Long Sweet Summer Nights” – The Thorns

9)  “Feels Like Summer Again” – The Wallflowers

10)  “The Other Side of Summer” – Elvis Costello

11)  “Hot Fun in the Summer Time” – Sly & the Family Stone

12)  “Summer in the City” – The Lovin’ Spoonful

13)  “Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince

14)  “San Francisco” – Brett Dennen

15)  “In the Summertime” – Mungo Jerry

16)  “Summer Means New Love” – The Beach Boys

17)  “Asleep on a Sunbeam” – Belle & Sebastian

18)  “In the Sun” – She & Him

19)  “Hot Summer Nights” – Miami Sound Machine

20)  “Walk in the Sun” – Bruce Hornsby

21)  “Keep An Eye on Summer” – Brian Wilson

22)  “Long Summer Days” – The Moody Blues

23)  “Keepin’ the Summer Alive” – The Beach Boys

24)  “Summer Days” – Bob Dylan

25)  “Your Summer Dream” – The Beach Boys

Barenaked Ladies & Wallflowers Non-Album Tracks – Playlists on Parade

By Chris Moore:

While I always have been and always will be an “album guy,” I have to admit that the ability to download singles does indeed have its merits.  Until recently, music fans haven’t had very good options when their favorite artists and bands record non-album tracks.  We’ve essentially had two options: 1) buy the soundtrack, import, etc. that the song was released on, or 2) wait years for an official compilation album to come out.  In the first case, you’ve spent more money than it’s probably worth and you’re left with a handful of songs that you don’t want and won’t listen to.  In the second case, well…

Who wants to wait that long?

So, I’ve just recently been putting aside my distaste for downloading music and started scavenging iTunes for songs I’m interested in.  What I never expected to find was a wealth of non-album tracks from two of my all-time favorite bands: the Barenaked Ladies and the Wallflowers.  I was thrilled to find twenty songs that weren’t forgettable throw-aways.  For the most part, the twenty songs I found and downloaded were well worth the price of admission.

Of course, I couldn’t help myself:  I just had to create a playlist!

The twenty songs you’ll find below run the gamut from demos to covers to generally unheard gems.  I couldn’t get enough of the Wallflowers’ take on the Rubber Soul classic “I’m Looking Through You,” so that quickly became the lead-off track.  Odd as it may seem coming from a guy who regularly contributes to a cover song music video blog, I don’t consider myself a fan of covers.  (You’d better believe, for instance, that I laughed out loud about two sentences into a serious article about an upcoming Phil Collins album of Motown covers.)  That being said, there are some phenomenal ones here, not the least of which are BnL’s cover of “Oh Yoko” and Jakob Dylan and Dhani Harrison’s take on “Gimme Some Truth.”  There’s something special about hearing a performance by the sons of two of the best singer/songwriters in rock music history, one of whom is a distinguished singer/songwriter in his own right.

I was blown away by the Barenaked Ladies originals that I found.  Typically, a band saves their crummiest little numbers for this sort of fare, so I certainly didn’t expect a BnL song on the Simple Life soundtrack to be anything stellar.  Go ahead, though:  listen to “The Other Day I Met A Bear” and just try to stop yourself from dragging and dropping it into your BnL music folder.  While “One Little Slip” isn’t anything outstanding, it’s a fun track, as much as “La La La La Lemon” is a funny track.

What weaves these covers and originals together on this playlist are the great live takes, particularly the iTunes Originals versions.  “After the Blackbird Sings” hails from the Wallflowers’ forgettable self-titled 1992 debut, but it is more than resurrected here.  I was thrilled to finally get a live version of “It’s All Been Done,” made all the more enjoyable for me because it reminds me of singing backup during MoU performances of this great track.

If you’re a Barenaked Ladies and/or Wallflowers fan, and especially if this year’s All in Good Time (BnL) and Women & Country (Jakob Dylan) releases weren’t enough to satiate you, then I know you’ll love the songs on this playlist.

1)  “I’m Looking Through You” – The Wallflowers

2)  “One Little Slip” – BnL

3)  “After the Blackbird Sings” (iTunes Originals Version) – The Wallflowers

4)  “The Other Day I Met A Bear” – BnL

5)  “Everything I Need” (iTunes Originals Version) – The Wallflowers

6)  “Easy” (acoustic) – BnL

7)  “6th Avenue Heartache” (Live) – The Wallflowers

8)  “La La La La Lemon” – BnL

9)  “God Says Nothing Back” (Demo Version) – The Wallflowers

10)  “Gimme Some Truth” – Jakob Dylan (feat. Dhani Harrison)

11)  “It’s All Been Done” (Live) – BnL

12)  “Whispering Pines” – Jakob Dylan

13)  “Sleepwalker” (iTunes Originals Version) – The Wallflowers

14)  “Oh Yoko” – BnL

15)  “Here He Comes (Confessions of a Drunken Marionette)” (Original Demo) – The Wallflowers

16)  “Into the Mystic” – The Wallflowers

17)  “Eat You Sleeping” – The Wallflowers

18)  “They Long to Be Close to You” – BnL

19)  “Letters from the Wasteland” (iTunes Originals Version) – The Wallflowers

20)  “Don’t Cry No Tears” (Live) – The Wallflowers