Category Archives: music

Is the Sixth Track the Best?

CDs seem like they’re on their way out; with downloads and iPods changing the way people consume music, the physical disc and even the concept of the album are under threat. I don’t have particular feelings about this either way. Whatever an artist’s intention when putting together a set of tracks, my interpretations and tastes dictate which songs I listen to when. If I want to play Spoon-Mozart-Fiery Furnaces, I damn well will. But I digress.

Track Six

There’s always been a sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind that artists deliberately put strong songs in certain slots. The first track is obviously important, as first impressions count for so much. Track 2 is also typically strong. After that, it gets a little hazy. Setting the first two songs aside as obvious choices for A-material, what else is a power slot? My contention is that it’s #6.

Falling roughly in early-to-middle section of most albums these days, the sixth track is the perfect place to sneak in a hit to reinvigorate the listener. It’s an assurance that the CD isn’t winding down, but still has plenty of punch left. It’s as good a track as any. Here are six great sixth tracks from six great CDs. Enjoy and discuss.

06 Radiohead – Karma Police : OK Computer

06 Ben Kweller – Penny on the Train Track : Ben Kweller

06 Band of Horses – Lamb of the Lam (In The City) : Cease to Begin

06 The Shins – New Slang : Oh, Inverted World

06 Smashing Pumpkins – Bullet with Butterfly Wings : Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness

06 Bob Dylan – Mr. Tambourine Man : Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits

There’s a New Accordion in the House

When I went to the company Halloween party last month, I had no idea it would lead to a brand new accordion. But 2,000 reward points for dressing up as Bjorn Borg and 3,000 points for placing 8th in the poker tournament meant I had 5,000 units of company love to spend. What did I choose? A brand-spanking-new Hohner Toy Accordion, for ages 4 and up.

My Hohner Toy Accordion

The concertina I coveted was upwards of 17,000 points, well out of my price range. With future opportunities for awards points uncertain, I plumped for this squeezebox for children and promptly forgot about it. Forgot, that is, until today, when my choice was vindicated.

Returning from lunch, I saw the cardboard box on my desk and knew immediately that I was the proud owner of my very own Stomach Steinway. Slipping it onto my trembling hands (due to a combination of joy, coffee and foosball), I began to play. The translucent blue plastic belied the heady resonance of the instrument, and like a mission of monkeys, several coworkers were lured into the room by the dulcet tones of my accordion. Had I a set of tin cups, I could have sent them scurrying around the office to collect alms. Sadly, I had no cups. However, the instrument had proved itself capable of great noises, and I looked forward to trying it at home.

After the requisite exercise, I attacked the concertina with gusto, squeezing, expanding, squeezing, expanding and swearing. A tricky device indeed, this accordion, but I persevered until I could play completely my new favorite song. Listen now, as I capture the subtlety of the tone shifts, the passion of a proud nation and the spirit of several generations of gypsy folk. For your aural pleasure, here is London Bridge.

The coming days look certain to be full of wonderful things; I’ll be traveling to Cape Cod and California in the near future, getting rich with Borgamo, plugging I’ll Believe You at every opportunity and spreading my knowledge to those who can afford it… BAMN! Now I can add learning the accordion to my list. I’m accept requests for my next song. It just has to be three notes or less.

Radiohead – In Rainbows Cover Art

Since Radiohead released their most recent album, In Rainbows, over the internet a few days ago, most of the talk has been about the fact people can name their own price for it. Less publicized but just as interesting is the bonanza of cover art that fans have been coming up with until the official stuff is released. There’s even a kind of unofficial competition going on over at hicksdesign. I missed the boat on entering in my own design, but here it is:

In Rainbows Cover

As for the album itself, I love it. My favorite tracks so far are the first, “15 Step” and the seventh, “Reckoner”. I’d highly recommend you give it a listen (you can download it for free if you’re stingy), and if you have a critique of my cover art or a design of your own making, let’s see it!

Fall Mixtape 2007

An English bloke I work with recently commented on how much he dislikes this time of year. I was forced to set him straight, pointing out the return of the soccer season, abundance of cider, leaves changing colors, crisp autumn nights, fires in the fireplace and holidays like Halloween on the horizon. Fall has been my favorite season by far, for as long as I can remember.

Fall in Storrs

In addition to the brief list above, there’s a more subtle feeling I get this time of year, a calm, comfort and confidence that enriches my days more than at any other time during the year. My hope is that these songs somehow convey this mood so that you may also experience its warmth.

M. Ward – Poor Boy, Minor Key

The Antlers – I’m Hibernating

George Winston – Charlie Brown Theme Song

Oh No! Oh My! – Walk in the Park

Shotgun & Jaybird – Secret Ukelele Track

Screaming Jay Hawkins – I Put a Spell on You

The Decemberists – Culling of the Fold

Beulah – Calm Go the Wild Seas

Enjoy.

Album Review: The Format – Dog Problems

I’m a sucker for waltzes (listening, not dancing), so when I heard The Format’s Dog Problems in Dan’s car a week ago, it immediately made an impression. The first two songs, “Matches” and “I’m Actual” have the familiar 3/4 tempo, and the second actually sounds like an extension of the first. When that is followed up by the outstanding “Time Bomb” you have yourself one of the best 1-2-3 album openings I’ve heard in a long, long time.

The Format - Dog Problems

The other masterpiece on Dog Problems is “If Work Permits”, which starts with some pleasant guitar strumming, gets a nice bass boost around 0:54 and steadily gets louder until it turns into a rocking ballad. Not typically a lyrics man, I particularly enjoyed the “ Sometimes, when sailors are sailing /They think twice, about where they’re anchoring /And I think, I could make better use of my time on land.” Ain’t that the truth.

Dog Problems is poppier than most music that I enjoy, but expanding my musical taste in this instance has been thoroughly enjoyable. Here are a couple of MP3 tracks to whet your appetite.

Time Bomb
If Work Permits

Regina Spektor: Three Solid Songs

IGIF brought my attention to Regina Spektor’s “Oedipus” a few days ago. It’s already gotten a fair number of plays, possessing as it does all of the quirkiness and charm of Begin to Hope.

Regina Spektor is not Regena Spector

Another Spektacular song is the Amnesty International cover of John Lennon’s “Real Love”. There’s a spine-tingling video of Spektor performing the song at Bonnaroo, and the studio version is equally incredible. Finally, I came across Spektor’s version of the “Weeds” theme song while looking for more of her covers. Weighing in at 54 seconds long, it’s a great little gem that will make a good filler on mix tapes for years to come. Enjoy these three songs!

Regina Spektor – Oedipus

Regina Spektor – Real Love

Regina Spektor – Weeds Theme Song

Throw Me the Statue

<p>I learned about this man-and-his-computer band at <a href=”http://iguessimfloating.blogspot.com/2007/05/throw-me-statue.html”>I Guess I&#8217;m Floating</a>, an authority on the indie blog scene. Diverse but always ear-catching, <a href=”http://www.myspace.com/throwmethestatue”>Throw Me the Statue</a> songs employ a glut of instruments, many of the electronic variety.</p>
<p><img src=”http://www.thecookblog.com/images/tmts.jpg” title=”TMTS” alt=”TMTS” align=”absmiddle” height=”300″ width=”203″ /></p>
<p>Throw Me the Statue is Seattle&#8217;s Scott Reitherman, and you can buy his album, Moonbeams, for a measly $10 at www.baskervillehill.com. Here&#8217;s a taste of what it has to offer.</p>
<p><a href=”http://www.thecookblog.com/sounds/tmts-conqueringkids.mp3″>TMTS – Conquering Kids</a></p>

A Top 50 Bands Announcement

Lists, lists, lists. This one contains the 50 best music artists I could think of in 10 minutes, plus one song from each that best defines them. I’m an optimistic move, I’ve tried to arrange them so that similar artists are grouped together. I hope that if you see something you know and like, the adjacent items will also be up your alley. Of course, these songs are for promotional purposes only, and if you own them and would like them withdrawn, please leave a comment and they will be removed within 24 hours. Support these great bands and buy their music.

Top 50 Music Artists

1 The Postal Service – Such Great Heights
2 Ratatat – El Pico
3 Brobecks – March 1

4 Grandaddy – Nature Anthem
5 Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Part I
6 Fiery Furnaces – Inca Rag
7 Radiohead – Everything in Its Right Place
8 Pink Floyd – Pigs on the Wing
9 Beirut – Mount Wroclai(Idle Days)

10 Man Man – Feathers
11 Devotchka – I Cried Like a Silly Boy
12 Sufjan Stevens – Chicago
13 The Shins – New Slang
14 Badly Drawn Boy – A Minor Incident
15 Wilco – I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

16 Simon & Garfunkel – 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)
17 Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With the Arab Strap
18 Mason Jennings – Ulysses
19 Johnny Cash – Ring of Fire

20 Elliott Smith – In the Lost and Found
21 Death Cab for Cutie – A Lack of Color
22 Decemberists – Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect
23 Emily Loizeau – Je Ne Sais Pas Choisir
24 Regina Spektor – Poor Little Rich Boy
25 Final Fantasy – The CN Tower Belongs to the Dead

26 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto in E Flat, 3rd movement
27 Mark Mothersbaugh – Hardest Geometry Problem In The World
28 Andrew Bird – Scythian Empire
29 Islands – Bucky Little Wing
30 Eels – Novocaine for the Soul
31 Cold War Kids – Hospital Beds

32 Tap Tap – 100,000 Thoughts
33 Oh No! Oh My! – Farewell to All My Friends
34 Spoon – Everything Hits at Once (At the Disco)
35 Built to Spill – Liar
36 Bishop Allen – Eve of Destruction
37 Boy Least Likely To – Be Gentle With Me

38 Beulah – Score From Agusta
39 Neutral Milk Hotel – King of Carrot Flowers Part I
40 Modest Mouse – Bukowski
41 Walkmen – The Rat
42 White Stripes – We Are Going to Be Friends
43 Arcade Fire – Rebellion (Lies)

44 New Pornographers – My Slow Descent Into Alcoholism
45 Bloc Party – Banquet
46 Phoenix – Napoleon Says
47 Wolf Parade – Modern World
48 Fountains of Wayne – Mexican Wine
49 The Strokes – Ask Me Anything
50 Rilo Kiley – A Better Son/Daughter