Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Case File #17: "Wall Poster Star"

The Brunettes
"Wall Poster Star"
Structure & Cosmetics

The need to know: New Zealand indie pop duo The Brunettes use quirk as its lyrical stock and trade, with handfuls of twee sweetness and the heart of 60s girl groups hung proudly on its sleeve. Although Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield  joined forces in 1998, it's only been in the latter aughts that they've made their way to the U.S. of A, opening for The Shins, Rilo Kiley, The Postal Service and Broken Social Scene. Their first album to have a domestic release in the U.S, and via seminal indie Sub Pop, was 2007's Structure & Cosmetics, followed by 2009's Paper Dolls, which was self-released by the group's own Lil' Chief Records. 

Why it's worthy: Reconsiling teenage idealism with the realities of relationships and love, "Wall Poster Star" encompasses everything that The Brunettes do well. Mansfield and Bree's girl/boy vocals play off one another to perfection, with Bree juxtaposing the likeable asshole with Mansfield's disillusioned, adorable pout. Sweeping Wall of Sound-inspired melodies only make the song's inevitable climax that more vivid: when Mansfield croons "Down, Down They Come/ Wall Poster Star" you're right there, tearing down those magazine cut-outs with her.

Quotable lyric: "Stop acting like some modern Don Juan/ Drawing lines out of rock and roll songs"

Where you've heard it: Coming from your computer speakers right now. (You know you want to!)

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Case File #16: "Sleepwalk Capsules"

At the Drive-In
"Sleepwalk Capsules"
Relationship of Command

The need to know: Once upon a time there was this great band called At the Drive-In. But, as is the story of many great bands, the group called it quits just before making it big. In the aftermath the band divided into two camps (deep rooted creative differences caused the break), with Jim Ward going on to found the considerably more radio-friendly Sparta and Cedrix Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez forming the much more experimental The Mars Volta. Their final album as At the Drive-In, 2000's Relationship of Command has nevertheless found its place as not just one of the best albums of the decade, but one of the most influential post-hardcore (and some would say rock) albums ever recorded. 

Why it's worthy: One of the great things about ATDI, a characteristic that many of their followers ignored, was that even at their most ferocious, Bixler-Zavala's vocals never devolve into completely incomprehensible, though serrated, madness. Which is good considering ominous political overtones subtly coat the bulk of the band's material. "Sleepwalk Capsules" alone is rife with references to religion and politics, Julius Caesar and The Emperor's New Clothes. And while screams and shouts perfectly compliment the band's onslaught of guitar cacophony, especially when Bixler-Zavala and Ward play at call-and-response, his words don't get lost in the well-orchestrated mess.

Quotable lyric: "All utensils are fixed on you/ Atop this podium split in confession/ Dripping with drool from the nerves of this sentence"

Where you've heard it: At the Drive-In's "One Armed Scissor" is a playable song on Guitar Hero World Tour.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Case File #15: "Rag & Bone"

The White Stripes
"Rag & Bone"
Icky Thump

The need to know: You know Jack White, the guy from both The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs? Well, he's also in this other little band called The White Stripes. With that band, comprised of Meg White and himself, he temporarily fooled a lot of people into thinking his ex-wife was really his sister and runs around in a lot of interesting red, white and black outfits. Oh, yeah, he also makes some of the best rock 'n' roll to hit radio this decade. The dude is near unstoppable.

Why it's worthy: I have to admit that this song appeals to my love of yard sales, thrift stores and those great "antique" shops that you only come across along rural southern roads. A great bit of Jack and Meg role playing (Meg might have the cutest speaking voice I've ever heard, and Jack his hilarious), the song is a silly tale of some junk collectors out on the prowl. Accompanied by a bluesy rock guitar riff, "Rag & Bone" feels like a cross between the bad-assery of "Seven Nation Army" and cute goofiness of "Hotel Yorba" or "We're Going to be Friends," which only proves that Jack White doesn't take himself nearly as seriously as some critics do.

Quotable lyric: "It's just things you don't want/ I can use 'em, Meg can use 'em/ We can do something with 'em/ We'll make something out of them/ Make some money out of them at least"

Where you've heard it: My boyfriend and I quote this song to one another constantly. Does that count?

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Case File #14: "I'm Good, I'm Gone"

Lykke Li
"I'm Good, I'm Gone"
Youth Novels

The need to know: One of the most promising debuts of 2008, Lykke Li's Youth Novels is a varied tapestry of straightforward pop, spoken-word dreamscapes, and danceable quirkiness. The Stockholm native has also nabbed ear time for her cover of the Kings of Leon tune "Knocked Up" and she also penned the stark, haunting "Possibility" specifically for the New Moon soundtrack. And the perplexing continues...

Why it's worthy: "I'm Good, I'm Gone" is a peppy electro-pop romp about working for the man. But rather than a labor-inspired dirge, it's a celebration of knowing she'll one day leave those losers in the dust. Mix in a serious piano beat and Lykke Li's sharp-like-a-whip voice and it's a song fit for "working hard" 80s film montages (in a good way!)...or at the very least it's the perfect antidote for your own long day at the office. A girl can dream.

Quotable lyric: "If you say there ain't no way that I could know/ If you say I aim too high from down below/ Well, say you're not 'cause when I'm gone/ You'll be callin' but I won't be at the phone"

Where you've heard it: "I'm Good, I'm Gone" was used in the 2009 slasher film remake, Sorrority Row.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Case File #13: "Cavalier Eternal"

Against Me!
"Cavalier Eternal"
As the Eternal Cowboy

The need to know: One of the most exciting currently performing live bands on the planet, Against Me! won over an underground following for their furious modern punk tunes and Tom Gable's introspective and often politically charged lyrics. Of course they caught ample flack (and praise) for their major label debut, 2007's New Wave, but what came before still stands as some of the decades best of the genre. These anarcho-punks may not be as mysterious as they used to be, but their current status isn't all bad.

Why it's worthy: Break up songs aren't hard to come by in rock music, but ones as frank, clever and truthful as this aren't often among them. Part anatomy of a fucked up relationship, part realism on why relationships end, Against Me!'s acoustic leanings dress "Cavalier Eternal" up as a rogue's confessional, which, I suppose, it is. Appearing in its relatively raw form (Fat Mike famously convinced the band to use the demo version of "Cavalier Eternal" rather than the rerecorded version), the acoustic off-the-cuff jangle is ultimately what makes the song is so compelling. Who said punk music always has to be fast and furious?

Quotable lyric: "This just isn't love/ It's just the remorse of a loss of a feeling/ Even if I stayed/ It just wouldn't be the same"

Where you've heard it: Fat Wreck released The Original Cowboy in 2009, a collection of the demos for As the Eternal Cowboy which includes this version of "Cavalier Eternal." The song was also released as a single in 2004, featuring the rerecording originally intended for the album. 

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Case File #12: "Chillout Tent"

The Hold Steady
"Chillout Tent"
Boys and Girls in America

The need to know: The Hold Steady have undoubtedly won the title of indie rock's favorite bar band, and, unlike the majority of the indie scene's pouty, dapper heroes, Craig Finn and co. are rockers to the core. Armed with an arsenal of songs full of good ol' sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll tales, Finn's lyrical dexterity, and, yeah, a touch of southern rock gee-tars, are what give them the win. Loud rock and drunken poetry are always worth cracking open a case of beer, and The Hold Steady excel at both.

Why it's worthy: Music festivals are always an interesting experience. Thousands upon thousands of people crowd together in the name of music only to sweat it out in the sun, and there's never enough toilet paper and always too many drugs. And that is exactly where we get the story of "Chillout Tent". Featuring guest vocals by Elizabeth Elmore and David Pirner (Soul Asylum) as our concert going heroes, Finn narrates a story of two kids who got messed up on more than just the music and end up spending some time together in, naturally, the Chillout Tent. With one of the catchiest choruses in The Hold Steady's repertoire, it's a tune much less heavy than the subject matter would otherwise dictate (drugs! overdosing! sex!) and, of course, that's why it's so awesome. An idyllic party song on the surface--both kids O.D. yet end up having a great time regardless, which makes the song take place in, seemingly, a world without consequences--"Chillout Tent" is, like much of Boys And Girls In America, both a celebration of and commentary on escapist youth culture. "Chillout Tent" may not be one of The Hold Steady's best songs (its Boys and Girls In America follower "Southtown Girls" is definitely superior) but it's certainly one of their most fun.

Quotable lyric: "She looked just like a baby bird/ All new and wet and trying to light a Parliament/ He quoted her some poetry/ He's Tennyson in denim and sheepskin"

Where you've heard it: If you haven't been people like this, you've definitely seen people like this.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Case File #11: The Trapeze Swinger

Iron & Wine
"The Trapeze Swinger"
Around the Well

The need to know: A former film professor, Sam Beam stumbled into the music business when his friends began doling out his home-made demos. Of course, one of those eventually ended up at Sub Pop, and three full-lengths, a handful of EPs, some collabs with Calexico, and a very notable cover of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" later, it's safe to say Beam's friends were on to something. Not untouchable by the pop culture plague, though, the super-bearded folkie's "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" was used to make tween hearts everywhere swoon at the end of the film Twilight, only adding to my confusion of why the vampire romance films get such kick ass soundtracks.

Why it's worthy: Simple, melodic repetition and lyrics fitting of a self-penned eulogy place "The Trapeze Swinger" among the most beautiful of Iron & Wine's songs, and you can't go two feet without tripping over a gorgeous song in Beam's catalog. A plea for remembrance of times both good and bad, Beam's hushed vocals and a slowly building chorus of "oos" captures some sadness, but it's softly enveloped in a blanket of wistful hope. A prime example of Beam's ability to craft songs that are no less powerful for their subtlety, "The Trapeze Swinger" excels, and captivates, because of it.

Quotable lyric: "And then they went on to say/ That the pearly gates/ Had some eloquent graffiti/ Like 'We'll meet again' and 'Fuck the man'/ And 'Tell my mother not to worry'"

Where you've heard it: "The Trapeze Swinger" originally, and fittingly, appeared on the soundtrack to 2004's awkward Dennis Quaid/Topher Grace dramedy In Good Company.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Cover Case File #2: "He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)"

Grizzly Bear
"He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)"

The need to know: No band was name-dropped more in 2009 than Grizzly Bear. Building on praise from 2006's Yellow House, the release of Vecatimest cemented Grizzly Bear as one of the most watchable up-and-comers. Add in a duet with Michael McDonald (really!) and the title of buzz band doesn't quite capture the ruckus that tracked these experimental poppers throughout '09.

Why it's worthy: "He Hit Me" is a song with a story. When Little Eva, head of early 60s girl group The Crystals, told Gerry Goffin and Carole King that the beatings she received from her boyfriend only proved his love for her, the songwriters penned "He Hit Me" specifically for, and about, her. The Phil Spector-produced original is sometimes seen as satire, with only a plodding bassline left to hint at any uneasiness, despite the content of the lyrics. The Grizzly Bear version, however, is much more ominous and introspective. Where the original sounds like a typical era love song, Ed Drost's buttery smooth vocals drench the song with inner turmoil and the blanketing sadness that Spector all but vanquished from The Crystals' version. A perfect cover choice for the indie darlings, Grizzly Bear performed their version while on tour behind 2006's Yellow House before recording it for their 2007 B-sides EP, Friend.

Quotable lyric: "If he didn't care for me/ I could have never made him mad/ But he hit me/ And I was glad"

Where you've heard it: Courtney Love and her band Hole performed their own cover of "He Hit Me" for MTV Unplugged in 1994. 

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Case File #10: "Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure"

The Weakerthans
"Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure"
Reunion Tour

The need to know: With a special lyrical knack for poignant cleverness and a blend of folk and punk rock, Winnipeg, Manitoba's The Weakerthans have earned a dedicated following of anecdote and sonnet lovers since forming in 1997. Spearheaded by former Propagandhi bassist John K. Samson, and featuring Broken Social Scener Jasion Tait on drums, as well as stephen Carroll and Greg Smith on guitar and bass, respectively, The Weakerthans paint scenes featuring lonely canvassers, love notes to construction equipment and endearing old hockey goalies all with a hint of Samson's own introspection and the occasional bleeding heart. They also hate Winnipeg. Just FYI.

Why it's worthy: A song sequel to Reconstruction Site's "Plea From A Cat Named Virtute", here we find the run away puddy tat out on the prowl, and, like most of us would be, sick for the comforts of home. Despite the song's subject matter, Sampson never degrades into cutsey territory.  Sure, we're hearing the thoughts of a lost cat, but it never seems laughable or cartoony, which isn't too easy a task. Add in an explosion of soaring guitars and the feline's final admission ("I can't remember the sound that you found for me") and you'll be hard pressed not to take in the next stray you come across.

Quotable lyric: "I remember the way I would wait for you/ To arrive with kibble and a box full of beer/ How I'd scratch the empties desperate to hear/ You make the sound that you found for me"

Where you've heard it: In the mews of every lost cat.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Case File #9: "Graveyard Girl"

"Graveyard Girl"
Saturdays = Youth

The need to know:If you've ever wanted your life to sound like the soundtrack to a John Hughes movie, then you should probably get your hands on some M83. Since 2001, M83, the moniker for French electropop mastermind Anthony Gonzales, has released five albums ranging from the ambient to the shoegazey and is responsible for notable remixes for artists including Bloc Party, Depeche Mode, Placebo and Goldfrapp. But his 2008 album, the aptly titled Saturdays=Youth, captured the 80s teen spirit in all of us, even placing an obvious Molly Ringwald look-alike on its cover. 

Why it's worthy: A theme song for fledgling goth girls everywhere, "Graveyard Girl" plays out like an emo melodrama in miniature. A love song to a girl who maybe spends a little too much time hanging out at the cemetery (like there is such a thing!) plays out over M83s well-adapted, 80s-inspired sonics. One of the bands more grounded "rock" songs, soaring synths and an obvious 80s drum beat play obvious homage to the group's influences, but it's more an interpretation of that decade's sounds than a straight rip off.

Quotable lyric: "I'm fifteen years old/ And I feel it's already too late to live/ Don't you?"

Where you've heard it: "Graveyard Girl" was used to promote British teen drama Skins.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Case File #8: "Prison Girls"

Neko Case
"Prison Girls"
Middle Cyclone

The need to know: On the cover of 2009's Middle Cyclone, that's Neko perched atop a muscle car, bearing a sword. And, yes, she really is that much of a bad ass. As both a part-time front woman for The New Pornographers and solo tour de force, it's Neko's powerful vocals that make her recordings so unforgettable. More than just a serious set of pipes, though, she's also one hell of a songwriter. Often crafting dark portraits of believable characters in her distinct country noir flavor, her albums have consistently provided some of the best alt country this side of Wilco. 

Why it's worthy: An ominous, dreamlike trance, "Prison Girls" threads hopelessly dark imagery with swoon-worthy "Ohs" for a tapestry as rich and inescapable as its narrator's predicament.  Vivid, haunting tableaus juxtapose the song's stunning, poetic cry of "I love your long shadows and gunpowder eyes"--a phrase I could hear Neko sing for hours on end (and I sometimes do).

Quotable lyric: "I love your long shadows and your gunpowder eyes"

Where you've heard it: Neko gets to play guest programmer tonight on TCM, where she'll be playing four of her favorite classic flicks. Unrelated, but still good to know. (Thanks A.V. Club!)

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Case File #7: "Admit It!"

Say Anything
"Admit it!"
...Is a Real Boy

The need to know: A bi-polar, socially anxious frontman and one of the best young guitarists in the scene are, oddly, just two reasons why Say Anything have emerged as pop-punk's most promising band of rogues. Frank lyricism matched with furious guitars is just too good a combination to pass up, even though mental illness and rumored drug addiction, which singer Max Bemis often divulges in song, nearly sidelined the band as their true 2004 debut ...Is a Real Boy got a second lease on life, and a bonus disc, in rerelease by J. Records two years later. A manic, epic double album,  In Defense of the Genre, found the band back on its feet (and Bemis once again exorcising his demons) and their eponymous third album appeared in 2009. 

Why it's worthy: Part spoken-word diatribe, part loud, fast guitars, "Admit it!" finds Bemis at his vicious and honest best. But it's not so much a song decrying the bullies of his youth or the plague of hipster elitism as it is a victorious fist pound of underdog triumph. Far from the whine typical of the emo scene, "Admit it!" is a loser anthem without the loser and sticks to humorous and harsh criticism rather than devolve into a complacent whimper.  Ever insecure, Bemis aims his snarky crosshairs at himself as much as at his enemies and at many points it's hard to tell which is which. Either way, Bemis never apologies for his scathing mockery because, well, it's kind of the truth.

Quotable lyric: "Prototypical non-conformist/  You are a vacuous soldier of the thrift store Gestapo"

Where you've heard it: Blasting from my car windows circa 2005.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Case File #6: "Things the Grandchildren Should Know"

"Things the Grandchildren 

Should Know"
Blinking Lights and Other Revelations

The need to know: After finding modest mainstream success with 1996's Beautiful Freak, Eels receded to the underground ranks, crafting unabashedly honest, explorative albums that have only gotten better with time. One of those bands most people have no doubt heard without actually having heard of, Eels have always hovered just under the proverbial radar, lending tunes to soundtracks as varied as Scream2, Shrek, Knocked Up and over 25 more. The band's penchant for tongue-in-cheek sarcasm even drew the misplaced ire of the Bush administration with 2000's Daisies of the Galaxy album for its innocuous storybook-style cover and the politician's misunderstanding of the albums lyrics. One of indie rock--and, indeed, all of music's--most intriguing personalities, Mark Everett (aka E) penned a tome of memoirs telling his strange, unrockstar life in 2008, also titled Things the Grandchildren Should Know.

Why it's worthy: Nobody mixes heartbreak with optimism like E. And nowhere does he do it better than here. The closing track to his semi-autobiographical two-disc epic Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" is both E's love letter to life and his legacy. No stranger to writing about his life ("Elizabeth on the Bathroom Floor" from Electro-Shock Blues is notoriously about his sister's failed suicide attempt), this song is more a confession than a retelling. He lays bare his coming to terms with who he is, his final understanding of and love for his detached father, and his struggles to connect with the world outside his own head. For a songwriter never afraid to be unflinchingly honest, "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" puts E out on a wire with no safety net, which makes this album's final revelation feel like finally meeting the man we only thought we knew.

Quotable lyric: "I knew true love and I knew passion/ And the difference between the two/ I have some regrets but if I had to do it all again/ Well, it's something I'd like to do"

Where you've heard it: Although this particular song wasn't included, the bulk of Blinking Lights was commandeered for the score to 2008's Jim Carrey/Zooey Deshanel comedy Yes Man.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Case File #5: "Paparazzi"

Lady Gaga
The Fame

The need to know: If you're a pop culture conscious individual, you've no doubt seen Lady Gaga...probably before you've heard her. Gaga excels at out-wierding the competition and even though her songs aren't exactly anything new or edgy, she has still made the mainstream pop scene a bit more interesting. Not just anybody can dress up like a planet, guys, and still walk away with five of the years biggest hits.

Why it's worthy: When not using stupid euphemisms like "disco stick," Gaga can actually be downright clever--a distinct reason why "Paparazzi" is the only one of her singles to get an obsession-worthy thumbs up. A slave to its title, the tune turns the tabloidal groan on its head, spinning a stalkerish love tale from behind the camera lens. And the chorus? Catchy enough to keep you up at night. True story.

Quotable lyric: "We're plastic but we still have fun!"

Where you've heard it: All over the usual suspects.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cover Case File #1: "Don't Stop Believin'"

Glee Cast
"Don't Stop Believin'"
Glee: The Music, Volume 1

The need to know: A musical dramedy with as much cheese as sincerity, Glee walks the line as a high school sitcom stereotype, but mocks itself with every step. Decidedly more Mickey Mouse Club than Gossip Girl, its combination of reality and ridiculousness help to serve up one of 09's best new shows. Music-wise, the show strives to make showtunes seem kinda cool but usually ends up making popular hits--like Kanye West's "Gold Digger"--safe for old, stuffy, white people. And I'm not sure how, but so far it's working.  

Why it's worthy: As the flagship tune of the series, "Don't Stop Believin''" might be the happiest cover song ever recorded (except for maybe The Polyphonic Spree's take on "Lithium"). Journey's original version is hardly lactose free, but the Glee cast embraces the cheddary side full force. And that's not a bad thing, here. It's a fun, refreshing and unbelievably catchy take on a song we've all heard way too many times to count.

Quotable lyric: "Some will win, some will lose/ Some were born to sing the blues/ Oh the movie never ends/ It goes on and on and on and on"

Where you've heard it: The centerpiece to the pilot episode of Glee, it became the group's theme song for making it to sectionals. 

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Case File #4: "Snake Drive"

R.L. Burnside
"Snake Drive"
Mr. Wizard

The need to know: With an intermittent recording career dating back to the late 1960s, it wasn't until he signed to Fat Possum Records (the current home of The Black Lips, Andrew Bird and Wavves) several decades later that R.L. Burnside would get his due. The Mississippi native caught the attention of the indie rock set in the late 90s through collaborations with Jon Spencer (of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, amongst other projects) and proceeded to release compilations of his early recordings as well as new, studio records into the 2000s. He passed away in 2005. 

Why it's worthy: Burnside's electric charged country and Delta blues are nothin' to sneeze at, and "Snake Drive" is the pennacle to 1997's Mr. Wizard. Slurred lyrics and searing guitar squeals meander along this near 7-minute jam, while a rhythmic riff keeps the tune from devolving into a messy ramble. I first heard this song as a teenager (my dad caught one of Burnside's shows. NOT fair.), and the repetition hooked me. I still can't stay away for long.

Where you've heard it: The original, and much shorter, version of "Snake Drive" appears on the 1996 Jon Spencer appearing A Ass Pocket Of Whiskey.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Case File #3: "Company Calls Epilogue"

Death Cab For Cutie
"Company Calls Epilogue"
We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes

The need to know: The poster boys of modern-day indie rock, Ben Gibbard and co. have gone from underground darlings to near household names in just a smidge over a decade. Their melodic, lovelorn tunes have found traction all across the board due to Gibbard's wit soaked honesty and guitarist/producer Chris Walla's trademark axemanship. 

Why it's worthy: It's a song. About a dude. Who busts up a WEDDING. If that isn't worth some obsession, I'm not sure what is. I'm hereby declaring this song the anthem of anyone who's ever let the right one get away--and realized it all too late. As humorous as it is poignant and, I'll admit it, disturbing, this is Gibbard at his lyrical best--and his band ain't slackin' neither. Oh, and a happy ending: Gibbard married it girl actress (and bona fide chanteuse from She & Him) Zooey Deschanel in 2009.

Quotable lyric: "I'm dressed up for free drinks and family greetings/ On your wedding, your wedding, your wedding date/ The figures in plastic on the wedding cake/ That I took were so real"

Where you've heard it: An alternate version appeared on DCFC's Forbidden Love EP, which also appeared in 2000.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Case File #2: "Hearing Damage"

Thom Yorke
"Hearing Damage"
The Twilight Saga: New Moon

The need to know: How the hell did New Moon end up with such a fantastic and, might I add hip, soundtrack? I would never peg most Twi-hards as the devout Radiohead faithful but I am certainly not complaining. Extra Thom Yorke? Yes, please, and I don't care where it comes from.

Why it's worthy: So everything Thom Yorke touches turns to gold. We know this. But "Hearing Damage" finds the enigmatic Brit in the midst of an impeccable electro freakout, again ditching the guitars for atmospheric beats that perfectly compliment his trademark wail. Nobobdy wails like Thom. Nobody.

Quotable lyric: "You speakers are blowing/ Your ears are wrecking/ You're hearing damage"

Where you've heard it: The song plays in what is arguably the best scene in New Moon. Wonder why that is...hmmm....

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Case File #1: "Sing Me Spanish Techno"

The New Pornographers
"Sing Me Spanish Techno"
Twin Cinema

The need to know:
If you haven't yet discovered the delights of The New Pornographers, boy are you missing out. Formed in 1997, the group--which has an all-star lineup including Neko Case, Dan Bejar (of Destroyer), Kurt Dahle (formerly of Limblifter) and ringmaster A.C. Newman, among other talented individuals--creates dynamic, high-spirited power pop, and, well, that genre doesn't get much better than this.

Why it's worthy: "Sing Me Spanish Techno" is a quirky pop tune as only A.C. Newman can craft them. Why does he want us to sing Spanish techno? I honestly have no idea, but "Listening too long/ to one song" is certainly a mantra we can adopt. And, with a chorus like that, consider this tune the unofficial theme song of Songs to Obsess Over.

Quotable lyric: "The hourglass spills its sand/ If only to punish you/ For listening too long to one song"

Where you've heard it: When my phone rings. It's my ringtone. Because I'm cool.

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