I owe thanks to either another blogger or an unsolicited email for helping me stumble across MESH's cover of an old Tears for Fears song called "Mad World." According to Mesh's bio over at CD Baby (where you can also buy his EP):
"Mesh is a native New Yorker graffiti artist born and raised in the heart of the city. Diverting his creative energies to music when illegal graffiti no longer became an option, Mesh attempts to paint with sound. Where letters as pictures fail, words and music suffice. Suffice it to say, Mesh is on a mission to merge all the experiences of his life into a succinct representative sonic output, therefore thus MESH, an outgrowth of growing up in New York City in an era with every class and kind of people on earth, and the unique experiences it brings."
The whole "paint with sound" thing would sound completely cheesey if it weren't an apt description of what is going on with his cover of "Mad World." It sounds like a mixture of James Brown, James Chance and A Certain Ratio, with maybe even a little of The Bomb Squad on the production end. I practically owe the guy royalties from playing it so many times in my weekly DJ shift. Good thing I can now find his stuff on the iTunes music store, so I can drop a dollar any time I see fit.
I actually love the original Tears for Fears version, an unexpectedly dark song from a band some people treat like a punchline when they talk about '80s music. What can I say, I have a soft spot for them. "Head Over Heels" is a great song. Their "Mad World" can be found on their 1983 debut, The Hurting.
"Mad World" was also covered in a vastly different way by Gary Jules on the soundtrack to Donnie Darko. Here's his version.
I know, I know. This is Internet Blog Post #1,000,000 about the crazily hyped Arctic Monkeys, whose debut album "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not" finally reached our shores earlier today. If you haven't already seen a ton of press on these guys, then you're probably some friend or relative of mine and this is the only music blog you've ever read, and you're only doing it to humor me.
In my defense, I'm positive I posted about them as early as October of 2005 (even then I was running late on the bandwagon) and tried my hardest to stay out of the fray until now. It's a little ridiculous to gush about a band when you haven't heard their record, especially if you haven't even seen them in concert.
Finally, I have the record in my grubby little hands so I can have a qualified opinion. Since I have only owned it for about 3 hours, I won't make any definite statements beyond: "This is pretty kickass."
Check out some for yourself:
"A Certain Romance": The first Arctic Monkeys song I ever heard was the demo version of this song. That is a demo version, right? There are a lot of similarities, but a few things that sound off to me (the drums sound like they were recorded differently, for example. You might not notice the clever, postmodern lyrics the first few times you hear it because the song has such an obvious, great melody that it doesn't really need good lyrics. "There's only music so that there's new ringtones" is the best dis on the music industry I've heard in a long time.
"Perhaps Vampires Is a Bit Strong But. . .": I like when a band can pull of having good songs on the second "side" of their album. Most records tend to run out of steam after the first four or five songs because even the band knows they have to front-load that shit so you won't realize how lame the record is in the long run. I love both of Rogue Wave's albums for that same reason; they never run out of good songs.
"Seven": This one is a b-side from the "When the Sun Goes Down" single. I recently read an interview with Mick Jagger where he pimped the Arctic Monkeys, and I'm guessing he loves this song.
FOR MORE ON TONIGHT'S POST:
- The Monkeys' home page
- Listen to the whole album on their MySpace page
- The Brits know their hype: Arctic Monkeys have fastest selling debut in UK history
Writing about 50 songs over the last two posts got a little exhausting, but I just had to finish that damn list. Tonight I'm dialing the ambition back a few notches and just posting a couple of songs I've been listening to lately. Enjoy the brevity. For those of you who enjoyed that GBV Top 100, stay tuned over the next couple of weeks because I'm going to begin work on my next insurmountable task: The Jeff Tweedy 100.
"Eyes" by ROGUE WAVE: Rogue Wave had a "secret" MySpace page a few months ago that featured this unreleased track. Why didn't I post it then? I have no idea. Not really sure where this one comes from. The track info says it's from "Just Friends," but that could just be a little MySpace joke. Their listing also includes a few live BBC tracks, including this version of "Bird on a Wire". While I'm at it, I'm re-tossing up their cover of Buddy Holly's "Everyday".
"The Swimming Song" by LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III: The soundtrack to the Oscar nominated "The Squid and the Whale" features two Loudon Wainwright songs from one of his best albums, "Attempted Moustache" (that is such a great album title). I got to interview Wainwright a few years back when I was working for a Philly paper, but unfortunately I wasn't a huge fan of his music until a year or two later. I would have loved to talk to him about the brilliance of "Moustache" ender "Lullaby".
FOR MORE ON TONIGHT'S POST:
- The Rogue Wave home page
- Rogue Wave at MySpace
- Loudon Wainwright online
- Wainwright also played the dad on the classic cancelled series Undeclared.
We've finally made it to the end of this year long journey. I'm left to wonder what you will all write about in the Comments section now that you won't have to hound me about when I'm going to finish this project. Maybe now you can nag me about which songs I missed.
It's still strange for me to think that Guided by Voices are no longer a band. It'll probably be years before we stop getting "new" material from them (did "Suitcase 3" come out yet?). For now, we'll have to watch and see what Robert Pollard does next. His first post-GBV solo album just came out a few weeks ago. I just got it myself, so I haven't had time to digest it yet. One cool thing for those thinking about getting it: if you buy it on vinyl, it comes with a code so you can also download the .mp3s from Merge's website.
You've waited long enough. Here are the last 20 (plus a couple of alternate versions) in my personal GBV 100:
"Kicker of Elves" from BEE THOUSAND: I think I yelled for this song at almost every GBV concert I ever attended. I never got it, though. That's what you get for being one of those assholes that yells for songs at a show.
"Knock 'em Flyin" from MAG EARWHIG!: I've probably driven the point into the ground by now, but UTBUTS is one hell of an underrated record. It has this dark underbelly that really comes out on this song, especially in the claustrophobic production.
"Learning to Hunt" from MAG EARWHIG!: I've mentioned it when talking about a few other songs from "Mag Earwhig!", but that album had a big impact on me when I was going through some hard times in college a decade ago. I remember listening to this record one afternoon on my way to the second worst job I've ever had, at the Toys R Us in Columbia, Missouri. I played "Learning to Hunt" on repeat three times before I could muster up the strength to go in and face another day of angry parents.
"Liar's Tale" from SELF-INFLICTED AERIAL NOSTLAGIA: Bob as Buddy Holly. Such a perfect little song.
"Lips of Steel" from SANDBOX: Another GBV song that really shows the R.E.M./Wire influences in their sound. It also shows how much you can do within the economy of one minute and thirty seconds.
"Motor Away" from ALIEN LANES: Remember the other night when I said there were two songs that shared the top spot in my heart for "favorite" song? This would be that other song. This song makes you want to get into your car and just blow fucking town. I know because it HAS made me do just that; this is essential listening if you ever need the motivation to completely change your zip code. It's so good, you should also have this alternate version.
"Mute Superstar" from MAG EARWHIG!: This one was always good when I was leaving the aforementioned job at Toys R Us.
"My Kind of Soldier" from EARTHQUAKE GLUE: You can ride on my shoulders when you want. A great song from an okay album.
"My Valuable Hunting Knife" from ALIEN LANES: Now that I've made the Buddy Holly comparison, this song kind of reminds me of that 50s rock sound -- if that soundguitar. were played with half-broken instruments. I love the part when Bob says "Hit it," and then is followed by that atonal guitar. A more slick and powerful recording can be found on "Bee Thousand - The Director's Cut." Or, it can be found right here.
"Not Behind the Fighter Jet" from MAG EARWHIG!: Finally, the last song from this album on this list. I haven't checked the totals, but I'm guessing that at least 10 to 20 percent of it comes from "M.E." and "Under the Bushes. . ."
"Rhine Jive Click" from UNDER THE BUSHES, UNDER THE STARS: Speaking of that record, here's a big wall of guitars and bizarre assemblages of words, like "country dance sell-a-thon" and "electric institute."
"Shocker in Gloomtown" from THE GRAND HOUR: The lyrics aren't even the best thing about this song (that would be the drum stops), and they're still awesome. "Were you there / Were you kicking / Alive in aisle 12 / Gimmick of the century / In boxes and jars / and giveaway cars / He's motioning for you." And the best part: "Bared his ass for all to see / and no one got to kiss it."
"Sometimes I Cry" from FOREVER SINCE BREAKFAST: I think this is one of Bob's more emotionally mature songs, and it comes off their first release.
"The Best of Jill Hives" from EARTHQUAKE GLUE: This song wouldn't be on this list if it weren't for that great rolling bassline and the cool guitar tone that enters at about the halfway point.
"The Enemy" from ISOLATION DRILLS: Power chords! Plodding rhythms! Submarine pings! Codas that go on too long! Cock rock of the highest order!
"The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" from BEE THOUSAND: A nice bummer of a song, played entirely by Bob, who does a good job with the vocals and a passable job on the flute or recorder or whatever the hell that thing is in the background.
"The Hard Way" from SAME PLACE THE FLY GOT SMASHED: This one mixes that Wire influence with Bob's well-documented love of The Who. His vocals, to me, sound like like a Paul McCartney home demo.
"The Official Ironmen Rally Song" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: This is a great anthem from possibly my favorite GBV record. When Bob's vocals go up an octave for the second verse, you're sold.
"Unleashed! The Large Hearted Boy" from PROPELLER: It almost starts out like an old Cure song, before the Minutemen and the Replacements get into a bar brawl and crash each other against the drum kit's cymbals in syncopated time. One of the best song titles the band ever came up with, and it inspired the first real music blog and the first blog to ever link people to my site, Large Hearted Boy.
"Watch Me Jumpstart" from ALIEN LANES: As we come to the end of this list, I think Bob's lyrics from this song are the only way to close things up:
"And watch me jumpstart, I'm Maximum Jack
Shot through the cosmos like an alien attack
Film finished. Fade into black."
With a generous birthday gift from my friend Brian and the computer expertise of my friend Matt, it looks like Pimps of Gore is back in business for a while to come. I now have more web hosting space than I know what to do with, so I'd like to celebrate in the proper fashion by kicking things off with a big post.
Tonight and through the rest of this week, I'm finishing off what I started over a year ago when this blog first came together.
That's right, I'm finally finishing the GUIDED BY VOICES 100 with songs 50-100 in one big old lump of rock. I'm putting 30 songs in this post and the final 20 in one later this week. Get your downloading finger ready, because I've got a ton of stuff, including a few rare tracks you might not have yet.
First, I must sum up the previously posted Top 50 songs. In no particular order: A Salty Salute, Everyday, Atom Eyes, How Loft I Am?, Bomb in the Beehive, I am a Scientist, Captain's Dead, Little Lines, Dust Devil, Your Name is Wild, Pantherz, Pretty Bombs, (I'll Name You) The Flame That Cries, Bulldog Skin, Choking Tara, Why Did You Land?, If We Wait, Drinker's Peace, Gold Star for Robot Boy, Downed, Things I Will Keep, Postal Blowfish, How's My Drinking?, The Tumblers, Lethargy, Game of Pricks, Lord of Overstock, Do the Earth, Ester's Day, Mother and Son, Big School, Gonna Never Have to Die, My Thoughts are a Gas, Tractor Rape Chain, When She Turns 50, Land of Danger, June Salutes You!, Smothered in Hugs, A Crick Uphill, Now to War, Tight Globes, 14 Cheerleader Coldfront, Dusted, Christian Animation Torch Carriers, Quality of Armor, Jane of the Waking Universe, The Brides Have Hit Glass, Avalanche Aminos, Echos Myron, Window of My World
Please let me know if I've made any duplicates. These 50 songs are a lot for one person to manage, so I'm bound to make a mistake or duplication at some point.
THE GBV 100, Songs 51-80
"A Second Spurt of Growth" from HALF SMILES OF THE DECOMPOSED: Another song from the band's final album. In the past few months I've gone back to that record a number of times and found some things I hadn't noticed or cared for before. This song is one of those things. Part of it makes me think it's a song about Robert Pollard and his fears of moving on without the band. "Gather these familiar shadows / I will take them on / The second spurt of growth will come about me / Don't doubt me."
"Acorns & Orioles" from UNDER THE BUSHES, UNDER THE STARS: I've probably driven the point into the ground by now, but UTBUTS is one hell of an underrated record. It has this dark underbelly that really comes out on this song, especially in the claustrophobic production.
"An Earful O' Wax" from SELF-INFLICTED AERIAL NOSTALGIA: Not a lot of my favorite GBV songs have come from this album, but "Earful" stands out because it's such a different song for the band. The intro verse sounds like old Built to Spill. The vocals at one point sound otherworldly, and then the song breaks into this Blue Oyster Cult guitar rave up. Not everyone is going to like this one, so sample it before you add it to your library.
"As We Go Up We Go Down" from ALIEN LANES: Perfect basement stoner pop. That warm bass line in your left ear makes it sound like you're on a couch while these semi-drunken neighbors are playing around you.
"Awful Bliss" from BEE THOUSAND: Quite obviously a Tobin Sprout song, probably because it has that Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd thing going for it.
"Back to the Lake" from UNIVERSAL TRUTHS AND CYCLES: Has any other band had as many hits without ever really having a Hit? As an odd side note, I once sent a fan letter when I was a young teen to the guy who plays piano on this song. He played in a band called Sprinkler on the Sub Pop label, and I wrote him figuring it was best to wrtie fan letters to lower-rung bands, because they were more likely to write you back. Chris wrote me on the back of a Seattle show poster and informed me he was in a new band called Svelt. He later sent me a free colored 7" single and a cassette of one of their EPs. Get Michael Stipe to do that for you from one fan letter.
"Blimps Go 90" from ALIEN LANES: It's all about that wiry, off-kilter violin line. The word "quaint" always comes to mind. Bob starts out with some nonsense right from the start, singing "Blimps go 90" and "aerosol halos."
"Break Even" from THE GRAND HOUR: This is such an awesome mishmash of the best elements of heavy metal, prog rock and cock rock. So much happens in 2 and a half minutes. The best part for me is the little Jim Morrison-esque "the day is done when we see the sun" part. According to the GBV Database, I've never seen this song performed live, but I could have sworn I'd seen it at some point.
"Burning Flag Birthday Suit" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: Definitely one of my absolute favorites, and one of those ones that makes me that much prouder of Bob knowing that everything in this song is played by him.
"Crocker's Favorite Song" from BOX/BEE THOUSAND re-issue: There's nothing particularly exceptional with this one, but I remember it being one of the first songs that jumped out at me when I bought the BOX set in college. I really hadn't been exposed to such lo-fi music until that point, and it struck me how little production values mattered when you had an undeniably decent melody.
"Cut-Out Witch" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: This always seemd to have a Husker Du feel to it, especially in the fuzzy guitar tones and poppy drums. That repeated guitar line sounds like a Sonic Youth riff.
"Dayton Ohio 19 Something and 5" from the DAYTON, OHIO 19 SOMETHING AND 5 EP: I'm not even sure if a studio version of this song exists. Anyone know? I remember seeing a Guided by Voices show in Philadelphia with my friend Olivia and they played this song. I had never heard it before, but immediately hunted down the 7" after the show. My record player didn't even work, and it was probably a year or two later before I could listen to the record.
"Discussing Wallace Chambers" from DEVIL BETWEEN MY TOES: This song sounds like it came off of FOREVER SINCE BREAKFAST, the band's first release and its most obvious connection to bands with that late 80s "college rock' sound, like R.E.M. and The Feelies.
"Do the Collapse" from the HOLD ON HOPE EP: Not only was this great song left off the mediocre DO THE COLLAPSE album, but it's also the title track! Oddly, that wouldn't be the first or last time Bob pulled such a move. There was a song called "Isolation Drills" left off of the album of the same name, and I seem to remember there being a song called Bee Thousand on The Grand Hour. Apparently there is another song in the band's catalogue that sounds like "Do the Collapse," but I haven't heard it.
"Dodging Invisible Rays" from TIGERBOMB: Another Tobin Sprout song. Everytime I hear a GBV song that sounds a bit out of character (in a good way), I realize it's because of him.
"Dog's Out" from DEVIL BETWEEN MY TOES: See my previous comments on "Discussing Wallace Chambers" or "The Tumblers." DEVIL is a sneaky little album with a bunch of great, homemade classics. This one is ridiculously simple.
"Don't Stop Now" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: Arguably the greatest song in the entire Guided by Voices catalogue. In my opinion, it battles for the top spot with pretty much only one other song, which is also on tonight's list. This is the epitome of "fist pumping." "What keeps big daddy happy? What makes the buzzard buzz?" Midway into the song, you get that great keyboard riff (which also happens to be the memorable guitar line in a song I posted a long time back, "Pantherz") and then "We pulled into Economy Island. King Shit and the Golden Boys." Just great.
"Everybody Thinks I'm a Raincloud (When I'm Not Looking)" from HALF SMILES OF THE DECOMPOSED: A cool way to open your final album. This is what it sounds like when it's not embarassing for a rock singer to show his age and maturity.
"Exit Flagger" from PROPELLER: You could have recorded this song in the bottom of a wet shoebox and it would still be sweet. The production values here aren't much better, but you can only imagine how much you could trick out a song like this in an expensive studio and have a real hit on your hands. That's not for these guys, though.
"Fair Touching" from ISOLATION DRILLS: Since ID was such a personal album (a bold move for Bob, since it was also the band's most commercial), I always took this song as a conversation with his soon-to-be ex-wife about his band being on the cusp of real success. "Currently fabulous! And perhaps at last the song you sing will have... meaning" definitely has the sting of someone close on it.
"Finks" from HARDCORE UFOs: Great lyrics on this one. It's hard to believe this never made an actual record. "A lie that's of no aim which follows secrets bleeding to you / Painted over beauty with tattoos of pink and blue."
"Free of This World" from MATADOR AT 15/THE BEST OF JILL HIVES: This is a recent addition to my GBV stash, but it is one that has really stood out for me now that I've found it. It's primarily a Doug Gillard song, so I'm not even sure how much it falls under the Guided by Voices catalogue. But hey, my list, my rules.
"Get to Know the Ropes" from SANDBOX: I'm starting to see the second half of my Top 100 in the same way Tarantino may have seen Kill Bills 1 and 2. This second half is like the weirder older brother of the first Top 50. Now that I've made my way into some of your heads with the poppier stuff, I'm starting to bust out the weirder shit on you.
"Ghosts of a Different Dream" from UNDER THE BUSHES UNDER THE STARS: There are about 497 songs in the Guided by Voices catalogue that can induce pogoing. This is one of them.
"Girls of Wild Strawberries" from HALF SMILES OF THE DECOMPOSED: While not still a member of the band, Tobin Sprout does add guitar to this song from the band's final album. I'm a sucker for that stomping, syncopated beat on the verse. "So proud to speak of how I otherwise am weak" is a great lyric.
"Glad Girls" from ISOLATION DRILLS: I think Bob Pollard had to have known after this song didn't skyrocket to the top of the charts that the world just wasn't ready for this kind of pop rock perfection. I guess he shouldn't have been surprised that his Big Star masterpiece wouldn't explode on modern radio. Big Star never had a hit, either.
"Gleemer (The Deeds of Fertile Jim)" from VAMPIRE ON TITUS: This is totally a Sebadoh song.
"Hardcore UFOs" from BEE THOUSAND: Are you amplified to rock? This thing sounds like it was pieced together from a couple of different sources.
"Hot Freaks" from BEE THOUSAND: This song is equal parts bad ass and silly. Just check out Bob's flagrantly fake Brit accent as he hilariously intones, "I met a non-dairy creamer explicity laid out like a fruitcake / With a wet spot bigger than a Great Lake." Uh... sure, sure you did. "He took me to Pie Land, said 'I am a thigh man.'" Hmmmkay.
"I am a Tree" from MAG EARWHIG!: There must have been bad blood between Doug Gillard and his former bandmates in Cobra Verde over this song, because GBV rarely played it live in later years. Cobra Verde were basically Bob's backing band on this album, and then he stole Gillard, their ace guitarist. The tree metaphor is a little silly here, but you can't deny the greatness in the song and especially the guitar playing.
It's good to be back.