Wednesday, December 28, 2005


After an unintentionally long hiatus, I'm back with my year-end post. There's not going to be much rhyme & reason here: An amalgam of my favourite songs/covers of 2005 and a bunch of random stuff that topped my iTunes playcounts for this year.

Andrew Bird - A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left

A few years ago I had a big Squirrel Nut Zippers phase (still going...) and started branching off from there to hear some of the band member's side projects like Katherine Whalen's Jazz Squad, James Mathus Knockdown Society, and... Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire. His first couple solo albums were sort of in the vein of SNZ's 1920's jazz stylings. Then the Weather Systems album started to showcase Andrew Bird's extraordinary versatility on the violin and other instruments in a variety of genres, which is further displayed on his new album from this year: Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs. It's fascinating to watch him play live as he uses a sampling machine to record his voice and various instruments to perform a multi-layered song by himself. There's some good shows of his on's Live Music Archive.

Hockey Night - For Guys' Eyes Only
Another plug for this song, which surprisingly became one of my favourite songs of the year via a random download. Musical quotage of the Pinball Number Song only makes this catchy song catchier. Speaking of the Pinball Number song, head over to I Dig Worms who features a video link to a Family Guy clip that features (!) the classic Sesame Street ditty.

The White Stripes - Red Rain
This summer, I got to see two of the best concerts I've ever been to: The White Stripes on back-to-back nights in Vancouver. Very little overlap in playlists between the two shows that for lack of a better description, just plain rocked. I had only listened to their new album a couple times and then watching Red Rain live was electrifying... like hearing it for the first time.

Best covers of 2005:
Hayseed Dixie - Holiday [orig. by Green Day]
Karen Abrahams with The Austin Lounge Lizards - White Rabbit [orig. by Jefferson Airplane]
Phantom Planet - Our House [orig. by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young]
Jon Brion - Play the Game [orig. by Queen]

Some current top covers (pre-2005):
Danny Michel - Young Americans [orig. by David Bowie]
Favourite cover I've heard all year.

Inspection 12 - I Think We're Alone Now [orig. by Tommy James & The Shondells]
The Polyphonic Spree - Five Years [orig. by David Bowie]
The Shins - Baby Boomerang [orig. by T. Rex]

Covers From Hedwig & The Angry Inch [written by Stephen Trask]:

I've yet to see this musical or the film, but I really should because I'm addicted to these songs from it.

The Polyphonic Spree - Wig in a Box

The Bens - Wicked Little Town (Tommy Gnosis Version)
One of my most listened to covers this year from the one-off meshing of Ben Kweller, Ben Lee, and Ben Folds.

Ben Jelen - Wicked Little Town
By jove, another Ben doing another cover of Wicked Little Town, no less. Jelen covers the "Hedwig Version" of the song, so it doesn't even overlap with the other Bens' cover. Makes a nice companion piece.

Miscellaneous tunes:
Georgie Fame - Somebody Stole My Thunder
I caught the tail-end of a Wal-Mart commercial this year and was excited because I thought they were using a Fantastic Plastic Machine song. As I listened to it more closely, I realized that this song had different lyrics and was in fact the source of a sampled riff from the FPM remix. The original song itself is a groovy hoot, but also check out this remix from The Escalator Team (featuring Yukari Fresh), which remixes Fantastic Plastic Machine's Bon Voyage with samples from Georgie Fame:
Fantastic Plastic Machine - Bon Voyage (Escape Mix)

Jason Forrest - War Photographer
This is another sample heavy track, which I discovered last week and became instantly hooked. The video was listed by Pitchfork's top 5 music videos of the year, which is where I first heard it. Check out the video here. The song reminds me of 70s funk mixed with the guitar-heavy electronica of Tomoyasu Hotei (probably best known from "Battle Without Honor or Humanity" used in Kill Bill). Unexpectedly near the end of War Photographer, he works in samples from Blood, Sweat, and Tears' Spinning Wheel. Awesome!

The Greenhornes - Shelter of Your Arms
The White Stripes - Shelter of Your Arms
I saw the Greenhornes open for the White Stripes earlier this year, but didn't realize that they had worked with Jack White on Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose album and that he had produced their latest album. Then, the b-side of their latest single The Denial Twist is a cover of this Greenhornes tune. Both versions are good though fairly similar... The Greenhornes reminds me sort of The Doors, while Jack White just does his Jack White thing.

Best concerts I went to this year:
The Killers with Tegan & Sara [Shaw Convention Centre; Edmonton, AB]
Jeff Healey's Jazz Wizards [Arden Theatre; St. Albert, AB]
Beck with Le Tigre [Queen Elizabeth Theatre; Vancouver, BC]
Aimee Mann [Commodore Ballroom; Vancouver, BC]
The White Stripes with The Greenhornes (two nights!) [Orpheum Theatre; Vancouver, BC]
Ben Folds, Ben Lee, & Rufus Wainwright [Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery; Woodinville, WA]
Robert Plant & The Strange Sensation [Rexall Place; Edmonton, AB]

Other tracks I dug from this year that I won't post:
Ben Folds - You to Thank
Ben Folds - Landed
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
Jamie Cullum - Get Your Way
Death Cab for Cutie - Where Soul Meets Body
Harvey Danger - Cream and Bastards Rise
Andrew Bird - Skin is, My
Andrew Bird - Opposite Day
Beck - Girl
Supergrass - Low C
Billy Talent - Red Flag
Eleven featuring Josh Homme - Stone Cold Crazy
Hot Hot Heat - Running Out of Time

Friday, December 09, 2005


It's about that time of year when the bloggers take to posting their Top Tens or some sort of mix of x-mas songs, which invariably consists of copping some tracks from the Maybe This Christmas series. Generally, I can't stand most traditional Christmas songs or their covers because of their inherently saccharine nature (combined with a healthy dose of cynicism for the holidays), but here are a few choice tracks in the spirit of giving:

Jet - Back Door Santa
I didn't really realize until earlier this week that there's this large anti-Jet contingent and that the band's artistic credibility is "hotly debated". The other day a friend and I were in the car listening to Take It Or Leave It and I suddenly asked "Why the hell hasn't Jet had another album?". So I followed this up by doing a google search for their new album and after a news article on an album possibly coming out next year, there was page after page of adamant Jet-bashing. And according to the Wikipedia entry on Jet, my fellow Jet fans and I suffer from "obvious, but mostly mild, cryptomnesia". Mmmmmmmmmokay, if that's not rock snob pretentiousness, I don't know what is. Or maybe I'm just a chronic cryptomnesiac.

Everclear - Santa Baby [originally sung by Eartha Kitt]
A rousing cover by Everclear. I love the underlying cynicism of the lyrics.

Rockapella - You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch [originally sung by Thurl Ravenscroft]
Though narrated in the classic 1966 film by Boris Karloff, the original song was actually sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice behind Tony the Tiger.

Whirling Dervishes - You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Another nice cover of the Grinch song with awesomely ridiculous lyrics written by Dr. Suess himself. "I wouldn't touch you with a
thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole." Classic. There's also another great version of the song by the Asylum Street Spankers on an archived episode of Coverville.

Ben Folds - Lonely Christmas Eve
This song written by Ben for the regrettable Jim Carrey remake is from the point of view of poor ol' misunderstood Mr Grinch. Wouldn't the Whos kinda piss you off too?

Harvey Danger - Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas (Sometimes)
Last Christmas was an exciting time for HD fans as they staged a reunion concert and released a X-Mas EP. They even sent me a signed Christmas card with my order. Of course, back in September they released their first album in 5 years. It's available online for free from their website, though of course the physical album would make a snazzy Christmas gift...

Hayseed Dixie - Holiday [originally by Green Day]
This isn't really a X-mas song... or a holiday song for that matter. But I've been giving this a few listens lately. Like Richard Cheese, Hayseed Dixie takes a gimmicky stance towards contemporary covers. And like Richard Cheese, I find that some of their songs actually transcend the novelty value of a hillbilly cover. I actually think these guys got better after they evolved past the original AC/DC tribute album they did. Way better than those generic Pickin' On albums.... (Amazon lists 120 Pickin' On albums - do they crank out a new album every 3 days??)

The Polyphonic Spree - Happy Xmas (War is Over) [originally by John Lennon]
The Polyphonic Spree are an inspired choice to do cover this. By the way, this is from the Maybe This Christmas Tree album (my token offering).

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 02, 2005


[EDIT: OK, QuickDump sucks. I'm sorry. SaveFile's down. Um, links will be down until I figure something out here.]

[EDIT 2: Alright, I've now managed to host the songs on our shaw account. Much easier to upload, might I add. This seems to have solved the problem for the foreseeable future. Fingers crossed.]

Three is The Magic Number by Embrace [originally from Schoolhouse Rock]

3 Covers:
Danny Michel - Young Americans [David Bowie]
Tom Jones & Stereophonics - Mama Told Me Not to Come [Randy Newman]
Brad Roberts - Bette Davis Eyes [Kim Carnes]

3 Originals:
Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - Case in Point
Harvey Danger - Cream and Bastards Rise
The Dresden Dolls - Girl Anachronism

3 Mash-ups:
Dirrty Girl [Christina Aguilera vs. Jet]
Screaming Pro [Beck vs. Michael & Janet Jackson vs. AC/DC]
Crazy Little Fool [The Beatles vs. Queen]