“Obsessions” – April 2010.

I decided to make a playlist on my Ipod of songs I’m obsessed with.  For me “obsessed” would be defined with by listening to a song repeatedly. Anywhere from 2-6 times.  (usually not 6 times, but you get the picture.)  I’ll just hit the little repeat icon on my ipod touch twice, and give a couple listens.  I just noticed a certain set of songs that, if they’d come up on  a genius play list or if I was listening to an album, one listen wouldn’t be enough for me.  So I put a group together, having no preconceived “total”.   Turns out my first list was 25 songs.  But it could have been 10, just as easily.   I’ll give you the song, what album it appears on (or at least what album I bought it from, or if I just bought the single from itunes, I’ll tell you that.)  You’ll then get my quick hit review of the song, as well as my favorite lyric in the song… assuming 1 it has lyrics, not all will, and 2 the song is in english, again not all songs will be.

So if you’ll join me?   Lets hit play, and like Flava Flav, Rock out with our Clock’s out.  You all thought I was gonna be dirty there, didn’t ya? Heads out of the gutter, people and into my first “Obsessions”:  April, 2010.

1.  “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver from the album “For Emma, Forever Ago”.  What it sounds like?  Folk at its purest.  A dude. A guitar.  Haunting vocals, but a beautifully crafted song.  The guy locked himself in a cabin in the woods to make this album.  No word if he found Sasquatch while out there, but he did make some damn fine music.

Favorite Lyric:    “And I told you to be patient… And I told you to be fine.   And I told you to be balanced… and I told you to be kind”

2.  “Surf Wax America”  by Weezer  from the album, “Weezer (the blue album)”.

Surf rock channeled through  the mind of River’s Cuomo. Fast paced track opining for a life in the ocean, away from the doldrums of a 9-5 life.

Favorite Lyric:  “I’m going surfin cos I don’t like your face.  I’m bailing out because I hate the race.  Of rats that run round and round in the maze”

3. “I’ll Take Us Home”  by Matt and Kim  from the album, “Grand”

Low fidelity DIY dance styled indie pop.  Lots of synth, but in this song tuned to sound like an organ, and ACTUAL drums make this something different than just “dance/techno” styled music.

Favorite Lyric:  “Red Lights can mean Go… I will take us home”

4. “Audience”  by Cold War Kids from the “Behave Yourself” EP (4 songs) A huge obsession from one of my favorite bands.  About the simplicity of 1 on 1 interaction.  Probably my “favorite” song at the moment. Simple musically, with a great beat.  Really enjoy it vocally/lyrically.  I also tend to geek out over references to vinyl in songs.  Which helps shed light on my “favorite lyric” from the song.

Favorite Lyric:   “You need a record you can move to.  And we got one.  Drop the needle, we are playing for an audience of one.”

5.  “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”  by Johnny Cash  from the album, “American V: A Hundred Highways”  Johnny + Rick Rubin = gold.  I joked as a child how  my least favorite music would be christian country (in my mind combining two of my least favorite musics = THE least favorite music) … and then I found out about Johnny Cash who regularly has old gospels and spirituals sprinkled through his albums. This song is simple, powerful, and haunting as hell (especially since Cash has died).

Favorite Lyric:  “What’s done in the dark will be brought to the light”

6.  “Ambling Alp”  by Yeasayer from the album, “Odd Blood”

Very accessible song from this experimental rock slash electro pop group.  The opening of the song sounds like the band is wading through a swamp, and steps out into some magical forest.  It gets upbeat, and launches into a song about not being downtrodden.  The refrain imploring you to “stick up for yourself, son”.

Favorite Lyric: “And if anyone should cheat you, take advantage of, or beat you…  Raise your head and wear your wounds with pride”

7.  “Grapevine Fires” by Death Cab for Cutie from the album “Narrow Stairs”  A song about, well, a grapevine fire that is about to destroy a town.  I really enjoy the drums and vocals in this song.  Ben Gibbard writes a great story and turns bleak subject material into a rather upbeat/positive song.

Favorite Lyric:  “The fireman worked in double shifts… with the prayers for rain still on their lips.”

8.  “You’ve Got The Love” by Florence & The Machine from the album, “Lungs”

The more I listen to this song the more I feel she’s singing to Jesus/God in it.  Maybe I’m misinterpreting the lyrics, but I get the vibe this is a religious love song.  Who knows. Musically, its upbeat and a very good “driving” song.

Favorite Lyric:  “Now and then it seems that life is just too much.  But you’ve got the love I need to see me through”

9. “Two Weeks” by Grizzly Bear from the album, “Veckatimest”

Another song you’ve heard part of via a commercial.  (some car commercial)  I got into this band because Thom Yorke said he was into them.  If there is a band you’re into, and they like are influenced by an act, it would be good of you to check them out.  I have a great track record being turned on to bands that bands I like, like.

Favorite Lyric: “Would you always? …  Maybe sometimes? … Make it easy?”

10.  “Such Great Heights” by Iron & Wine from the “Such Great Heights”  EP    –

Iron and Wine is a folk group… or dude depending on how you look at it.  This song came into prominence via Garden State.  If you’ve seen the movie you’ve heard the song.  Its a cover of a Postal Service song. (The Postal Service is a side project of Death Cab for Cutie’s frontman, Ben Gibbard)  The original is more electronically tinged.  This is guitar and dude.  Very simple.

Favorite Lyric: “I tried my best to leave … this all on your Machine … but the persistent beat it sounded  Thin upon listening”

11.  “Don’t Slow Down” by Matt & Kim from the album, “Grand”

Took notice of this song a couple weeks ago while running.  Opens with what sounds like an “S.O.S.” morse code being played on a synth.  The driving beat and lyrics certainly fit my activity.  I put this directly after “Such Great Heights” on the playlist purposely as you slow down and mellow out and then pick it back up again, and get going.

Favorite Lyric:  “don’t slow down  … I’m feeling restless …   don’t slow down … summons and sentence  we’ve made some messes … don’t slow down”

12.  “The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash from the album, “American IV: The Man Comes Around”

My second song from Johnny.  Starts with Johnny quoting something.  Not entirely sure what, before going into the song.  Opens with muted rhythmic strumming.  Cash more speaks than sings in this song.  Again heavily flavored with biblical/religious references.  As I think, lyrically, the song is about the second coming.  Thus the title and chorus “When the Man Comes Around”.

Favorite Lyric:  “Who ever is unjust… let him be unjust still”

13. “Dreams Old Men Dream” by Cold War Kids from the album “Loyalty To Loyalty”

This was my favorite CWK song before Audience.  Still in my top 3 for sure.    Great song.  Really this should be on an older version of “Obsessions”, but since this is my first one, and I love this song?  I’m including it.

Favorite Lyric(s): “I’ve been up chasing my childhood with a pen”  – and – “I realize I’m just a hack actor, finished playing my role”

14. “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence & The Machine from the album, “Lungs”

Not sure what the songs open with what sounds like a ukulele? Includes chimes.  Hand Claps.  GREAT Drums, as most of her songs do.  A great build in the song.  Song explodes into the chorus.  Fun sing along song.

Favorite Lyric: “And i never wanted anything from you … Except everything you had and what was left after that too”

15.  “Daylight” by Matt & Kim from the album, “Grand”  –

Second Matt and Kim song.  Again you’ve heard part of this in a commercial. I got into them thanks to an MTV Woodie’s performance. (Woodies are MTV’s Indie Music Awards).  Fast paced.  Simple.  Its a duo of drums and synth… with a little lap top mixed in.

Favorite Lyric:  “And in the daylight I don’t pick up my phone … ’cause in the daylight anywhere feels like home”

16.  “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” by Nirvana from the album, “Nirvana Unplugged”

I feel like this is Kurt Cobain’s goodbye.  The end of MTV’s Unplugged, Nirvana covers Lead Belly.  Kurt loved the song and Nirvana’s performance so much he refused to do an encore.  The song softens before Kurt shrieks the final chorus.  Despite the subject matter and the painful tone in Kurt’s voice I always smile when I hear this song cuz I think its amazing.  A Highlight of his musical genius, and a reminder of what was lost.

Favorite Lyric: “My Girl. My Girl.  Tell me where did you sleep last night”

17.  “True Love Waits” by Radiohead from the live album, “I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings”

Radiohead has a habit of having amazing b-sides and rarities.  Songs that you hear and are like, “how the hell is this not album worthy?”  This is from a concert and is just Thom Yorke and a guitar.  Considering this was released on a live CD after the heavily electronic/computerized Kid A/Amnesiac combo, it was great to hear this bitter sweet lovelorn song.

Favorite Lyric:  “I’m not Living… I’m just killing time”

18.  “Flume”  by Bon Iver from the album,  “For Emma, Forever Ago”

Second entry from Bon Iver from the same album as “Skinny Love”.   Similar recipe for folky awesomeness.  His voice is so haunting (haunted?).

Favorite Lyric: “I move in water, shore to shore… Nothing’s More”

19.   “Holiday” by Weezer from the album, “Weezer (the blue album)”

Rivers Cuomo and crew want to get away from it all… again.  Second song from the blue album, and another “Lets go away” song… clearly I want to vacation and my musical tastes are trying to tell me as much.

Favorite Lyric:  “We’re going where the wind is blowing

Not knowing where we’re gonna stay”

20.  “Grizelda” by  Yeasayer from the album,  “Odd Blood”

Another Yeasayer song on the list.  Starts with warbly piano, vocals, and hand claps.  Builds into the first chorus before going back to the simplistic approach for the verse.  Very cool musically, and paired with the falsetto background vocal in the chorus really grabbed my attention when i first listened to this album.

Favorite Lyric:  “You’ll put up a fight don’t regret how you lived”

21.  “Daylight Outro (Remix)” by Matt & Kim from the album, “Grand”

Its Daylight revisited.   A little darker/heavier musically.  Lyrics are basically the same.  I wondered if I should lump it in with Daylight, but they’re different songs, musically.  Lyrically, not so much…. so I’m not gonna put in a favorite lyric.

22.  “Soldier’s Grin” by Wolf Parade from the album, “At Mount Zoomer”  Good piece of indie rock.  Guitars and synths at the start.  Really dig the lead singer’s voice.  Good rhythm to it.  Keeps the track fast paced

Favorite Lyric:  “What is passed, we’ll just leave it behind”  and “And what you know, can only mean one thing”

23.  “Santa Ana Winds” by Cold War Kids from the EP, “Behave Yourself”

3rd CWK song.  2nd from their latest EP.  Opens with guitar.  Drums and bass kick in after a bar.  Song is definitely stronger musically than lyrically. Truth be told, I had a helluva time picking a “Favorite lyric” for this song.  Still like the hell out of it.  Just nothing was all that catchy in the way of lyrics.

Favorite Lyric: “Making Headlines Again… Santa Ana Winds”

24.   “Between Two Lungs” by Florence & the Machine from the album, “Lungs”

We open with what sounds like wind/air whistling.   Purposeful considering the songs subject material?  Probably.  The production of this song has the rhythm of breathing to it.  Starts off labored, and then works itself into hyperventilation for the chorus.  Simple song structure makes this accessible and helps focus on the vocals/lyrics.  Florence Welsh’s voice is “big”.  Works great with the piano and string arrangement.  I came to this song later than the first 2 on this list, but it has, probably, supplanted “Dog Days” as my favorite on the CD (for the time being, at least).

Favorite Lyric:  “And my running feet could fly … Each breath screaming … We are all too young to die”

25.  “4 Minute Warning” by Radiohead from the album, “In Rainbows [Disc 2: special edition]”  Another “how the hell isn’t this on an album” song.   This is in the top 10 for me for Radiohead Songs.  Maybe even top 5. A song about paranoia and nightmares.  It starts with buzzing and feedback before we ease into the soft instrumentation, which is just a sliding bassline and a tambourine.  Followed by some vocalizations by Thom Yorke and buried echo-y guitar.  Like with most of my preferred Radiohead stuff this is simplistic, and stunning.

Favorite Lyric: “This is just a nightmare…. Soon I’m gonna wake up”

So there you have my 25 obsessions of April 2010. Some of these have been obsessions for longer than just a month, but I’ve never done this before.  Next time I don’t think I’ll hit 25 songs (hopefully, as the lyric i ended with says, “this is just a nightmare”)   It was a little more daunting than I first envisioned.  Ambition impacted practicality.

HOpefully you stuck this out.  Hopefully this will turn a few people onto some new/different music.   I recommend you check a few of these songs out.    If you have itunes most of the tracks listed would fall in that .99 range because a lot of the songs are from indie acts.  Until next time?

Go here to preview and purchase these songs at Amazon.com.