Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The 11 Best Johnny Cash Songs (of the American Recordings Era)

One of the most fascinating things about music is what the power of one song can do. When Johnny Cash first started his American Recordings with Rick Rubin during the 90s, it was seen with mild anticipation. Outside of Cash fans and the critics, very few people cared anymore what the man in black was up to. When he covered Glen Danzig on the first album, it was more of a novelty. Even bringing Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers into the second album, lended very little mainstream credibility to the project. In fact, his covers of Beck and Soundgarden on his second outing were scoffed at by most fans of mainstream MTV. This trend continued on the third album with his morbid cover of U2's One. Many U2 fans were insulted despite the band's blessing and even past duets. But the anti-Cash frenzy was stirred to new heights when it was discovered that he would be covering NIN's extremely personal "Hurt" on his fourth endeavour. And the man mixing the pot was none other that Trent, himself. He was livid when he heard Cash would be taking on a song he wrote during one of his lowest life points. This was his song and Cash was about to destroy it. Then...we heard Cash's version.

Cash delivered a chilling macabre testimony as a man standing over his grave, looking back at his life, his love, all his wrongs, and what he had left. It coverted everyone to fans. Those who scoffed at his earlier covers, went running to the stores to stock up on the first three discs. MTV embraced him, nominating Hurt for Video of the Year...though they gave it to Justin Timberlake. But even Justin, a Tennessee boy, claimed his winning was a travesty over Cash. Most importantly, it converted Trent...who said he cried the first time he watched the video. Cash had not only done a respectable cover, he did it better. This was Cash song now...he realized he had written it for him.

That one song, changed the perception of Cash. That one song not only proved he was still a legend, it changed the credibility of his recent work. The American recordings went from being novelties...to genius. Today sees the third and final post-humous release from the American sessions. And the appetite for this material is still at a fever pitch. In fact, from a poll on this site, more people want to hear this album over the new Hendrix...almost 2-to-1. That is the power of one song.

He deliver the song, weeks before his death. Giving us the chance to show we still appreciated him and that he would never be forgotten.

Here are the 11 Best Johnny Cash Songs (of the America Recordings Era):

1. Hurt (IV)
2. Solitary Man (III)
3. Man Comes Around (IV)
4. I See A Darkness (III)
5. Redemption Song (Unearthed)
6. The Mercy Seat (III)
7. Further On Up The Road (V)
8. One (III)
9. Sea of Heartbreak (Unchained)
10. I've Been Everywhere (Unchained)
11. Thirteen (I)

Buy Johnny Cash's final American Recording...only $3.99 for a limited time.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Unknown: Editors - The Beginning Has A Finish

What precise power do Dora the Explorer and Elmo have that infects our youth like an infant form of crack cocaine? My 18-month-old can't even say her sister's name but she knows how to stand in front of the TV and with perfect pronunciation, shout "Elmo, elmo, elmo" on endless repeat as she furiously points at the blank screen. It's like she's warning me that at any moment, Elmo is going to explode into flames. And only I can stop it. I won't of course.

My kid is so obsessed with this fictional character that I worry about what's going to happen when she actually becomes infatuated with a real human being. She can literally spot a Dora the Explorer pencil from across a crowded Target with more estatic energy than a clueless teenager emits when staring down an undead serial killer. In fact, I actually think a serial killer would have less of an impact, because the kids will probably be pre-occupied looking at all the Elmo backpacks (there's like 10 different kinds...really).

Here is The Editors - The Beginning Has A Finish:

1. Orange Crush
2. Find Yourself A Safe Place
3. I Buried the Devil
4. Come Share the View
5. Lullaby
6. Banging Heads
7. An Eye For An Eye
8. The Picture
9. Road To Nowhere
10. Open Up
11. A Thousand Pieces
12. Some Kind of Spark
13. Bonny

Buy The new Expanded Edition of the Editors' In This Light and On This Evening.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Unknown: Editors - The Front Wall

For years, records companies have spanked loyal fans by releasing deluxe or extended editions of releases. Most recently, this happened with Lady Gaga and Eminem. For all those honest fans who go out and buy the album the day/week it comes out, they are stuck in a quandry when bands "re-issues" the same album a few months later with a couple more bonus tracks. Now, you're either cursed to go out and buy the new version of the album for a couple more songs that are in all liklihood not as good as the other tracks since they were left off the original release...or you illegally go and download them. I understand the record company's tactic in trying to lure new fans to an aging release by giving them a bonus...but the problem with this...is that it only targets the fringe fans. You may get a minor boost from new buyers...and a couple of hardcore fans will re-purchase it. But in the end, you're disenfranchising the only people who are still buying music. This is your base. Don't piss off your base! We're the last people buying your music...don't force us into downloading. Isn't this what you're trying to avoid?

Here's an idea...let's call if a compromise. I will support your re-issues...but in return...offer the loyal fans a way to get the new songs without having to re-buy the whole album...maybe a bonus EP...or something along those lines. Sounds fair? I think so.

In the Editors defense, they added a whopping 5 songs...and the price is still reasonably cheap.

Here is Editors - The Front Wall:

1. Let Your Good Heart Lead You Home
2. You Are Fading
3. Colours
4. Release
5. Forest Fire
6. French Disko
7. Crawl Down The Wall
8. Disappear
9. The Diplomat
10. From The Outside
11. Dust In The Sunlight
12. Head in Bags
13. Time To Slow

Buy Editors - In This Light and On This Evening (Extended Edition 2CD)

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Unknown: Travis - Poem To S. Jones EP

Travis lead singer, Fran Healy, and guitarist, Andy Dunlop, teamed up this summer for a leg of acoustic concerts, showcasing some of Travis' best songs in a stripped down, personal atmosphere. I have a lot of admiration for bands that shed their production skin once in awhile to show they can still achieve intimacy with their music.

And since this is only half the band...it's not a real Travis release. Therefore, I'm only posting a half-album of B-sides. These were taken from the J. Smith sessions.

Here is Travis - Ode To S. Jones EP
3. Lola
Buy Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop's new acoustic live show, A Chronological Trip Through the History of Travis (only here!)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Unknown: Hot Chip - Hard Dance Night

I try to run everyday. I used to be up to five miles a day. But with sickness...sick kids...a concussion...and multiple work deadlines...I found myself taking a hiatus. Strangely...everyone I talked to (who wasn't a runner) thought that was a good idea. They all said running is really bad for your health. I always responded with..."compared to what?" Most didn't have an answer. Some would respond with something asinine like..."compared to anything." Yeah, right. But the one response that had the most frequency was..."compared to going to the gym." When I prodded further...to find out how they knew this tidbit of information...their response...which was all the exact same. They all said: "My trainer told me."

So...according to the trainer at the gym...where you pay monthly fees of about $50...running (which is free) is worse for your health than going to the gym. Interesting. Now, I know there is some truth that excessive running can have long term health issues (knees & ankles). But so can doing nothing. And I promise you...sitting on the couch eating fast food, watching the Bachelor and ridiculing runners is far worse from your health than going for a jog.

Hot Chip has a buttload of Bsides. Most of which can be purchased from one of three B-side EPs readily available everywhere. So here's everything else...

Here is Hot Chip - Hard Dance Night:

1. My Piano
2. Bubbles They Bounce
3. Wearing My Rolex
4. Transmission
5. Sexual Healing
6. Nothing Compares 2 U
7. My Brother Is Watching Me
8. Slow Death
9. So Deep
10. With Each New Day
11. No
12. I Can't Wake Up

Buy Hot Chip's new album, One Life Stand....now!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The 11 Best Songs By Massive Attack

Today I saw a car accident. It wasn't a bad one. It was a single car accident. And the driver walked away unscratched. But it was a strange one. The guy ran full speed into a cement railing on a freeway offramp. It wasn't like he lost control and slid into the railing...he just plowed straight into it. I wanted more than anything to ask the guy what the hell he was thinking...but felt like it probably wasn't the time. I did the good samaritan thing and got out of my car and helped the guy push his car off to the side of the road. But here's the really screwed thing. I was the only one. No one else got out to help. And to make matters worse...none of them gave a crap. They all kept driving...swerving around the damaged car to go on their way. It should of taken us 30 seconds to move his car...instead it took almost 5 minutes because we had to keep stopping to wait for these jackasses to drive by. What the hell is wrong with people?

Here are the 11 Best Songs by Massive Attack:

1. Unfinished Sympathy (Blue Lines)
2. Teardrop (Mezzanine)
3. Safe From Harm (Blue Lines)
4. Protection (Protection)
5. Man Next Door (Mezzanine)
6. Angel (Mezzanine)
7. What Your Soul Sings (100th Window)
8. Dissolved Girl (Mezzanine)
9. Karmacoma (Protection)
10. Small Time Shot Away (100th Window)
11. Blue Lines (Blue Lines)

Buy Massive Attack's new album, Heligoland, now!

Friday, February 05, 2010

The 11 Best Songs By Midlake

Sarah Palin is fucking retarded. I mean seriously...is this one of the dumbest controversies ever? When I say someone is fucking retarded...I'm not saying that they have Down's Syndrome...I'm saying they are a fucking idiot. Retarded means slow or stupid. That's the dictionary definition. Mentally retarded refers to people with Down's Syndrome. And since Rahm wasn't talking to anyone with Down's Syndrome...then everyone needs to shut the hell up.

Words can have two means. Even slang. Gay can mean happy. Fag can refer to a cigarette. Ass can mean donkey. Dick can be the ex-Vice President of the United States. Pussy can mean cat. Douche Bag can refer to a bag where you put used douches. And Retarded can refer to Sarah Palin.

Check out the new additions to the $5 store. New albums from Vampire Weekend, RJD2 & Surfer Blood along with classics from Zepplin, Crazy Heart Soundtrack, Yeasayer, Mos Def, & Neon Indian.

Here are the 11 Best Songs By Midlake:

1. Roscoe (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
2. Head Home (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
3. It Covers the Hillside (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
4. Kingfish Pies (Bamnan & Silvercork)
5. Van Occupanther (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
6. Some of Them Were Superstitous (Bamnan & Silvercork)
7. Chasing After Deer (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
8. Simple (Grand Army EP)
9. Young Bride (The Trials of Van Occupanther)
10. No One Knew Where We Were (Baman & Silvercork)
11. In This Camp (The Trials of Van Occupanther)

Buy Midlake's new album, Courage of Others. Now!

Monday, February 01, 2010

The 11 Best Songs By BT

Who watches Dora The Explorer? Not for fun...obviously with their kids or cousins or nieces... Is it just me or is Dora a moron? I mean seriously this has to be one of the dumbest kids ever. Why? Have you ever noticed...she's always lost. Every single episode this kid gets lost going to some place she's been 100 times before. And to make matters worse, she has talking GPS with her. What the hell is wrong with this Map? He's always taking her in the most dangerous route possible. She's going to her grandma's house and all of sudden she's stuck behind crocodile river. I mean really? Crocodiles? Where does this kid live? And what kind of parents are Dora's if they allow her to wander around this jungle unsupervised knowing it's filled with crocodiles. Do they really think her gay monkey is going to protect her? And when are they going to beat the crap out of Swiper. He's not their friend. He's a thief. When are they going to figure out that saying "swiper, no swiping" doesn't work? The fox comes back every episode and tries to steal more crap. What is that teaching kids? If someone catches you...just try again later when they're not looking. Dora needs to do to Swiper what we do to real criminals. Lock him up in a tiny jail cell with that Big Red Chicken...and well...we know what comes next...

Here Are The 11 Best Songs By BT:

1. Blue Skies (Ima)
2. Superfabulous (Emotional Technology)
3. Never Gonna Come Back Down (Movement In Still Life)
4. Love on Haight Street (Movement in Still Life)
5. Dreaming (Movement in Still Life)
6. Flaming June (ECSM)
7. Somnambulist (Emotional Technology)
8. Madskillz Mic Checka (Movement in Still Life)
9. Knowledge of Self (Emotional Technology)
10. Shame (Movement in Still Life)
11. The Antikythera Mechanism (This Binary Universe)

Buy BT's new album, These Hopeful Machines.