Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon

The Ten Best Songs of Whatever This Decade is Called. (In my opinion)

Sooooo, What can only be described as a lousy decade is coming to a close. One of the examples of this being a lousy decade was the music industry. The dynamics of the industry changed so much as the decade rolled along. The one thing that didn't change was the music was dominated by manufactured pop with no soul.

Speaking of soul, the decade continued the decline of R&B to the point that a casual listen to much of the R&B seemed no different than any standard pop, Even country. It doesn't speak well of the decade that the best selling album was from the Beatles and the second one was by N'SYNC, An album from 2000.

But there were exceptions. Now, I'm in my forties so I'm not one to be an arbiter of taste for music. Yes, I'm locked into my 60's, 70's and 90's pop/rock world with some 80's thrown in the mix but I try to keep my ear out for songs that sound good to me.

The problem was how does a man my age find new music? The radio stations are so pigeonholed these days, It's hard to find one listenable that would play new music. Both MTV and VH1 has abandoned playing music videos almost all together.

Then the disappearance of record stores in which one can flip through new releases (Just at the time the stores gave us the option to listen to it before buying) and hearing it over the loudspeakers so the options get limited.

So my list compiles songs I became exposed to by sources like word of mouth, karaoke, TV commercials, Movie soundtracks, and free single downloads from I-Tunes.

I did a previous list a few years ago. I've adjusted the selections. I'm eliminating any repeats of musical acts, Re issues and cover songs. It's very white male centric but I'm a white male, So there you go.

In no particular order:

1.Hang Me Up To Dry- Cold War Kids.
This I heard as a free download from I-Tunes. I grew to love this song through shuffle mode. Somewhat retro in sound, very spooky I love it.

2.Hella Good- No Doubt. I was a mild fan of No Doubt in the 90's but missed this song mainly because I hate the title. A woman used to sing this at karaoke and she was pretty good. Very funky, Very danceable, without too much from proto-Lady Gaga whiny vocals.

3.Last Night-the Strokes.
One of the few videos on the list that I first saw on MTV, 2 that is. Someone I knew was recommending music of this decade to me when I said all new music sucked. I gave it a fair listen and loved this song. Plus this song was one of the few of this decade I was listening to when I was getting laid. Good memories with that one.

4.I Turn My Camera On- Spoon. I heard this song from a car commercial. I didn't buy the car but I did by the song with a little Googling. I love a good falsetto and the simple but funky bass line.

5.W.A.N.D.-Flaming Lips.
Another song I heard on a commercial. Didn't buy the computer it was selling but indeed I bought the song. I'm a fan of the Flaming Lips, especially in their presentation.

6.Crazy-Gnarls Barkley. A rare time I caught a video on MTV and loved it from the get go. The best video of the decade in my opinion, By far. The song is great, One of the rare R&B songs that questions my belief that good R&B music has been dead since 1977.

7.Seven Nation Army-White Stripes.
If I allowed multiple songs from one act on this list, Jack White would take about 7. He's my favorite music act since the heyday of the Seattle scene of the early 90's. A genius. So when it came to narrowing it to one song by Jack White, I had to choose this one. It's the most influential song by him. It's been covered by many acts including the Flaming Lips and Audioslave. I first heard it when I pressed the play button on my CD player the day I bought this album in 2003. The only song on the list that I did so. Took me back to my teenage years.

8.Chelsea Dagger-Fratellis.
I've been a fan of the Fratellis for a few years and found this one when it played on a Amstel Light commercial. Great chorus with some tricky verse gymnastics. A future barroom sing along. I hope.

9.You Know I'm No Good- Amy Winehouse. I downloaded the song free from I-Tunes and promptly forgot about it. I saw her video for "Rehab" a number of times during its rotation peak and liked it but man does she frighten me. So, A little while later the show Madmen was ready to premiere and used You Know I'm No Good as a mood piece and combined with the graphics of the show and the anticipation of the show's premiere I started giving it a second look. Old style R&B from the 50's sung by a Jewish white girl from England. Fantastic production.

the song was featured in an I-Tunes ad and yeah I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Love the wispy vocals and the banjo build up.

Honorable Mention:

- A Jack White side project that expands on the minimum sound of the White Stripes. Very retro 70's.

Gone, Gone, Gone -Robert Plant with Alison Krause.
I didn't want to include musical acts from previous decades especially when it was 30+ years ago. Still, This inspired and unexpected team up produced an album of standards with amazing production. It's the best post Led Zeppelin album Robert Plant has done and this song is a good representation of it.

Love Song-Sara Barellos.
Normally I don't like whiny female crooning but this song moves me. Straight forward piano pop in a waltz structure. It's not quite up the production values of 1234 and therefore it's not on my top ten.It's catchy, I wish the women I see doing karaoke would sing it.

Tears From a Gun-Black Ghosts.
A spooky song by a British electronic duo that makes for a great night time driving song, especially when it's raining.

Sexy Back-Justin Timberlake.
I'm not a fan of his music but I respect his talent. This song is the closest to a song by him I like. It's a great mix that inspired me to check out Timberland because he was getting all the credit for the song's success. Big mistake, this song is the exception to everything else Timberland put his hands on, Including Chris Cornell.

Okay, That's my list. I encourage any debate an examples that you might think is better.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Day in New York City 2009.

There is one thing I like to do and that is to visit New York City right before Christmas. I hadn't done it the last two years because of my money and job situation. I did my usual announcement of of the blue that caught everyone off guard hence I was only able to meet up with my friend Martin. This worked out well though because it gave me ample opportunity to do what the heck I want to do.

I started by going to Macy's. I did the ol' toy and Christmas thing and enjoyed taking in the atmosphere of old school department stores wooden escalators included.

After that I bought a Peter Bagge comic book and ate lunch with Martin at an old school coffee shop. Since it was after noon, I had a beer.

After leaving Martin I toured an old Episcopalian church and took in the old school ambiance. I then did the usual Lord and Taylor's window display but added the experience of actually going into the store itself. It reminded me why I never shop there.

I continued to walk up 5th Avenue as per tradition and wandered into the main branch of the NYC library. They didn't have much in shows at the moment but they did have a nice tree display.

Behind the library lies Bryant Park. They have recently set up a Christmas tradition of store similar to Europe's Christkindlmarkts and a skating rink called the Pond. I haven't skated in nearly twenty years but I was game. I really enjoyed my time on the ice. I can skate a little but I still haven't learned to stop properly. I drank some beer by the warmth of the fire outside in a bar called the Southwest.

I was buzzed when I wandered to Grand Central Station and it's laser display on the ceiling. there is a transit museum that my nephew Sean would love to see if he ever gets the chance.

I wandered into the former Pan Am building and enjoyed a choir of high school students. I did the Rockefeller Center and went into my SECOND church of the day. St. Patricks of course.

I wandered up 5th ave. to FAO Schwartz took in the toys and did Blooimingdales when my feet finally got too tired.

I then went home. I was fortunate that day to not have to wait long for the bus.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Pipe Dreams Cartoon

I had to do this a second time because Flash punked out on me. I get the feeling something might have gotten lost in the translation.