How about “The Sun Goes West” by The Faraway Places?

(The video below is apparently someone’s visualizer and at least three songs. Weird.)

Brian Wilson was famously credited with saying he was trying to craft “teenage symphonies to God” with his more ambitious recordings with the Beach Boys. It’s a mix of the epic and the simple— “I’m picking up good vibrations,” or “God only knows what I’d be without you”—matched to complex music layered like a classical symphony.

Which leads me to one of my favorite recordings of the year (so far) is A.C. “aka Carl from the New Pornographers” Newman’s “Get Guilty.” Like most pop tunesmiths, Newman is frequently compared to Wilson, though he doesn’t seem to be quite as crippled by his melodic gifts. (A lot of these pop guys seem to go nuts trying to replicate that perfect hook that only they can hear and that’s always bouncing around their brains.)
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Oh Neko, you crazy, crazy awesome chick

Great CD cover, or greatest CD cover?

Oh Neko, why did you move to Vermont after I left? And didn’t you once live in Seattle? I’m starting to think you’re avoiding me.

http://blog.manic-pop-thrills.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/muzak.jpg

I think I spent more time in 2008 catching up to music I missed in 2007. I ended up with 11 recordings, but as with last year, cheesed-out and combined 2 of them into number 10.

I was actually surprised by how ambivalent I was toward a lot of the stuff I bought, and I think it has something to do with downloading everything from amazon.com’s MP3 store. I think you take purchases much more seriously when it’s a physical item; you just don’t connect as much to non-physical items. When you have to remove the CD from the case and place it in the CD player, it represents more of a commitment than just adding it to your iTunes library and having it randomly pop up during “shuffle” mode.

Anyway, on to the list. Here are the ground rules: I like three-minute pop songs, so this isn’t exactly comprehensive and varied. I like what I like, that is all. I’ve attached occasional videos and live performances, except for ones from Warner, which pulled all of its videos from YouTube. Fuckers.
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Top 10Once again, we have ground rules: I like three-minute pop songs. So, this isn’t exactly comprehensive and varied. I like what I like, that is all.

So, here’s the list, with occasional videos and live performances:
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Oh for fuck’s sake. I move away from Burlington and my future wife Neko Case rolls into town (in January) for a “let me preview some of my new material” concert. Sheesh.

Thank god someone’s still doing big, dumb, and a fun muzak. Here’s “Tick Tick Boom” by The Hives.

(We’ll see how long this embeddable video lasts; for some inexplicable reason, Universal Music doesn’t let you embed “official” versions of its videos. Weenies.)

Also, I’m buying as much music as possible from amazon.com’s MP3 service. If emusic didn’t require a monthly subscription, I’d be buying it there. Support non-iTunes (or non-DRM) music stores.

spoon.jpg

Somewhere in that blackness is Spoon playing at the Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle on Saturday the 28th. I attended with the lovely and talented Ms. Sizzle Says. (Whom, as you can see in the accompanying photo, is like three feet shorter than I am.) It was an all-day event, but I wasn’t really familiar with any of the other bands. We caught a bit of John Vanderslice, who was… fine and OK and whatever. Spoon!

Ms. Sizzle is a fan of Against Me!, the band that preceded Spoon. They were also OK. They sure did shout enthusiastically. It was your basic angry punk music, sounding like a less Irish Dropkick Murphys. (Which isn’t a criticism; both bands shout a lot.) There were a lot of political messages buried in the mix a bit, ones which the crowd surfing furries (don’t ask) surely grokked.

The crowd got pretty big for Spoon, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. They rolled through a nearly 90-minute set, mixing in most of the tunes from their current CD “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” with some of the “greatest hits” from the past (“Everything Hits at Once, ” “The Fitted Shirt,” “Take a Walk,” “Me and the Bean,” “The Way We Get By,” and a killer version of “Jonathon Fisk“).

They were tight but not boringly polished. They had a lot of energy, and Britt Daniel was in fine voice. (And here’s a random Spoon/gaming fact: Daniel used to work for Origin Systems in their sound FX department. ) Spoon just sounds cool.

In other news, The Simpsons Movie. It’s worth seeing more for all the throwaway gags in the periphery, which is generally true of all great Simpsons episodes. My favorite line? The always quotable Ralph Wiggum, upon seeing a naked Bart Simpson riding through the streets of Springfield after a dare from Homer: “I like men.”

Awesome.

No, this isn’t about The Tick.

At the risk of this becoming, “Steve’s Music Blog,” I just picked up tickets to see these guys in a couple of weeks. This isn’t my favorite track off their new CD, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga,” but all of their songs just sound… cool. I just dig Britt Daniel’s voice for some reason.

This is where I was last night. It was an evening full of happy sounds and confetti flying all about the room. (This video really takes off around the 3-minute mark.) It was… inspiring.

(Note: I didn’t shoot the video or anything.)

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