Thursday, March 30, 2006

Off the Record - Tracklisting and Liner Notes

I recently finalized a compilation that had been in the works since Christmas. Part of the delay was tinkering, part of it involved a still ongoing debate with comanche/soul records' parent company over the "lack of commercial appeal" of the music. I'm happy to say that it's now officially done. Here's the tracklisting with a little commentary.

(warning: the rules of indie rock say that none of these things are as cool now as they were when I first started putting this mix together. I find it still holds up fine, but be warned that your local record store clerk is "definitely over" the Wolf Parade by now.)
1. Our Love Will Change the World – Outrageous Cherry. Detroit psych-rock band reportedly refuse to let their drummers play with cymbals, resulting in Motown style beats to back up their textured guitar pop.
2. Emily Kane - Art Brut. British buzz band's half heartfelt, half tongue-in-cheek plea to a childhood sweetheart whose name actually is Emily Kane.
3. Ageless Beauty - Stars. Of all the super-serious bands coming out of Canada today, Stars are one of my favorites, exuding a little more pop smarts than most. Plus, they had the audacity/talent to pull off a decent impromptu cover of "Blue Moon of Kentucky" during a show in Lexington last year.
4. Ibi Dreams of Pavement - Broken Social Scene. An anthem for nothing in particular, the production's a cluttered mess...that somehow works. I like the horn charts at the end.
5. Tell Me Why - 20/20. Classic power-pop from the overlooked Oklahoma band.
6. Heartworm (Ooh Ooh Song) - Four Volts. More power pop, this time a heftier dose of power, grit, and punk. Former Carleton College professor Theo Cateforis on drums.
7. Baby C'mon - Stephen Malkmus. Malkmus' post-Pavement albums blow hot and cold for me, but they all have a few undeniably good tracks; this is the best off his latest, Face the Truth.
8. Kindling - Architecture in Helsinki. Australian umpteen-piece do schizo-pop that's a few times catchier and more manageable than "genre" pioneers the Fiery Furnaces. This is off their first, Fingers Crossed, but I recommend checking out 2005's In Case We Die.
9. You Didn't Have to Be So Nice - The Lovin' Spoonful. The Lovin' Spoonful don't get enough credit. "Do You Believe in Magic?", this song, and "Darling Be Home Soon" were some of the greatest of the Sixties, and their folk harmonies directly influenced some of the Beatles' stuff (see "Good Day Sunshine").
10. Shake Some Action - The Flamin' Groovies. Maybe the best power pop track of all time?
11. Freak Scene - Dinosaur, Jr. Terrific song, frequently cited as the band's tour de force. One of the best rhymes in rock history in the last chorus.
12. Road to Joy - Bright Eyes. I find Conor Oberst's work is very much love-it-or-hate-it, and I'm proud to declare myself on the former side of the fence. Closing track from his best album so far, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning.
13. Hey Man (Now You're Really Livin') - Eels. The Eels latest studio release, Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, was a bit watered down over the course of two albums, but it had plenty of good moments like this one.
14. In This Home on Ice - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Everybody loves these guys...or rather, everybody loved these guys. It's pretty good, but hard to see what the fuss was all about. Lead singer sounds a hell of a lot like David Byrne.
15. Off the Record - My Morning Jacket. Kentucky boys continue to put out consistent material, even with the shift to the reggae-inflected, keyboard heavy sound.
16. Cool - Gwen Stefani. Graham's guilty pleasure of 2005. I love this song.
17. I Turn My Camera On - Spoon. Not the best song on the album ("Sister Jack"), but still a very fine track. Pretty soul Prince homage for a bunch of skinny white guys from Texas.
18. Incandescent Hearts - The Russian Futurists. The Futurists' (really just one guy with some synths and a laptop) Our Thickness is one of my favorite albums of the past couple years. Very catchy synth stuff, set behind beats that are almost hip hop (at any rate, the closest thing to rap I've listened to all year).
19. Shine a Light - Wolf Parade. Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock produces. Another bunch of Canadians.
20. Love Me Like You - The Magic Numbers. Double bro-sis quartet from Britain. Recently had the pleasure of seeing their show at the 9:30 Club. One of the most gracious, warm, and joyful performances I've seen in a while. Looking forward to their second album.
21. Killer Parties - The Hold Steady. From their debut, ...Almost Killed Me, and also one of the most fitting closing tracks in a while. I love the bassline and the lyric, "If they ask why we left in the first place/ Say we were young and so in love and I guess we just needed space/ So we heard about this place they call the United States".

Hope you enjoyed it.


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