Sunday, March 13, 2005

What I've Been Listening To

3 Doors Down - Kryptonite
Sort of "Cowboy Rock," a category which appears several times in this list. A sad song about a man worrying about his limits. Chorus: "If I go crazy then will you still call me Superman? If I'm alive and well, will you be there holding my hand?"

Audioslave - Like a Stone, I Am the Highway
This band is something of a superband, formed when the lead singer for Rage Against the Machine left the band (to focus on Communist activism) and was replaced by the lead singer for the former hit band Soundgarden, Chris Cornell. It's known that Cornell got involved with "spirituality" after the breakup of Soundgarden, and some wonder if that didn't involve Christianity. Chorus from Like a Stone: "In your house, I long to be/room by room, patiently."

Cake - Short Skirt Long Jacket
Everyone likes Cake. The vocalist actually talks, Nancy Sinatra-style, instead of truly singing. There's wacky lyrics, a trumpet, and even judicious use of the vibra-slap (perhaps the greatest instrument ever). I'll be honest: I don't really know what this song is about. Great line: "With fingernails that shine like Justice and a voice that is dark like tinted glass."

Cowboy Mouth - Jenny Says
Country Rock's second appearance on this list. What can I say? I just really like the genre, and I remember this song from high school. Great line: "My name is Cain and I am now un-Abel."

Dirty Larry - The Long Way Home
Modern, "fourth wave" ska, heavily influenced by punk. In fact, ska as a genre is probably dead, though it survives as an influence with the use of brass instruments and emphasis on the upbeats. I would list the chorus, except that the horns are louder than the vocals at that point, and I don't know what's being said. This is both tragic and awesome.

Doctormanette - Bonkers, Under Over
I have an unfortunate tradition. Whenever I discover a band I really like, it turns out that they've broken up, either the week before or five years ago. Doctormanette was a truly great "fourth wave" pure ska band, with a stellar mix of the simple and the complex. Compare the bridge of Bonkers, with the brass repeating a simply melody and the electric guitar playing the exact same note repeatedly for about 32 beats, with the end of Under Over wherein the same melody is played about five times, but each time with subtly different instrumentation on various beats each time.

Down By Law - 500 Miles
I love ska/punk covers. Down By Law's cover of the hit by The Proclaimers is great, though perhaps they could've avoided adding the f-bomb.

Five Iron Frenzy - Giants
A Christian ska band which I didn't really like very much before, but am growing to like (natch, they broke up in 2003). Giants isn't really a ska tune, but perhaps more Broadway. I'm not sure where I stand regarding some of their pet issues, such as American Indians and Capitalism, but they're sincere, and it's worth checking out.

Gin Blossoms - Follow You Down, Hey Jealousy, Allison Road, Mrs. Rita
Perhaps the culmination of this list, as they're not only Country Rock, but also broke up before I got any of their albums. Their lead songwriter also committed suicide, which doesn't help, either. They've just got a great jangly sound which I'm really coming to like. Try listening to Follow You Down and Hey Jealousy without being moved. Chorus to Follow You Down: "Anywhere you go, I'll follow you down. Any place but those I know by heart. I'll follow you down, but not that far."

Gravity Kills - Guilty
This was one of the first songs I remember really liking on the radio. It's kind of industrial rock, which is usually too Goth for me (though I do like Rob Zombie's Dragula), though this is a little brighter. I also like the name of the band. I seem to remember that they had another song which got a lot of airplay, but I can't find it on Napster. C'est la vie.

Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Dreams
You know, I find Green Day's politics reprehensible. However, they're really good at pop-punk. Their entire album Warning was fantastic, and American Idiot probably is pretty good too, except for all the Bush/conservative bashing. As much as I like some of their punkier songs like Basket Case, I think I prefer the slower ones such as this, which are pretty heartfelt and moving. Chorus: "My shadow's the only one that walks beside me, my shallow heart's the only thing that's beating. Sometimes I wish someone up there will find me, till then I walk alone."

Home Grown - Barbie Girl
Punk covers don't get any better than Home Grown's version of bubblegum euro-pop band Aqua's hit. It's also a fairly dirty song, if you listen closely. Come on Barbie, let's go party.

Jesus Christ Superstar - Heaven on Their Minds, Superstar, Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem
Maybe I'm just perverse, but I think that the best songs from the musical are those sung by the disciples Judas and Simon Zealotes trying to get Christ to be a different kind of Messiah than He was (and is). Bridge from Heaven on Their Minds: "Nazareth, your famous son should have stayed a great unknown, tables, chairs, and oaken chests would have suited Jesus best, He'd have caused nobody harm, no one alarm."

Johnny Cash - Hurt
This cover of Nine Inch Nails' song from the American IV album may rank as number one cover of all time. See the video. Don't tell me you didn't tear up. I don't like much modern country, but I've always got room for Johnny Cash and Johnny Horton.

Kansas - Carry On Wayward Son
People either love or hate this song. Lead singer Kerry Livren's Christian-inspired lyrics are wonderful, and the guitar work is magnificent. 70's rock at its finest. Bridge: "Carry on, you will always remember. Carry on, nothing equals the splendor. Now your life's no longer empty, surely heaven waits for you."

Kanye West - Jesus Walks
This song has gotten a lot of press, both good and bad. West describes himself as a Catholic, but one not walking the way he should be, and this song reflects this. It's about how much our society needs Christ and how much we struggle, but has a lot of profanity and some explicit imagery. The rest of the album is the same way, alternating between spirituals and vicious mockery of the rap scene. Great line: "I'm just tryin' to say the way school needs teachers, the way Kathie Lee needed Regis, that's the way I need Jesus." Another great line: "I wanna talk to God, but I'm afraid 'cause we ain't spoke in so long."

Newsboys - Shine, Breakfast, Love Liberty Disco, Live in Stereo, Spirit Thing, Praises, Cornelius
I got a chance to see these guys in concert a few months ago, and they were fantastic. They're also the real deal as Christians. It's Australian Christian pop, but very clever. Whistling is also incorporated into several of the songs, which is awesome. Chorus from Spirit Thing: "It's just a spirit thing, it's just a holy nudge, it's like a circuit judge in the brain."

Nickelback - This is How You Remind Me
I was in a fast food restaurant a little while ago while this was playing, and on my way out I noticed that every single person inside was mouthing the lyrics along with the song. I also heard a worship band cover this one time at a service, and it worked very well. It's just a really catchy, almost Country Rock song. Chorus: "These five words in my head scream 'Are we having fun yet?'"

Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
This was the song which launched the modern Alternative Rock movement, starting with grunge. Singer Kurt Cobain famously committed suicide in the mid-90s, but drummer Dave Grohl went on to become the frontman for Foo Fighters and to assist on drums for Queens of the Stone Age. If you don't know this song, you don't know modern rock music. Chorus: "Here we are now, entertain us."

NOFX - Champs-Elysees
Just a sweet French-language tune by punkers NOFX. Basically, it's about a guy who walks along the Champs-Elysees enjoying life who meets a girl, goes to see a rock show with her, and falls in love with her.

Notorious B.I.G. - Mo Money Mo Problems
When I was in 9th grade, the gang war between Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls exploded, with both eventually being shot and killed. Mo Money Mo Problems was the tribute arranged by Puff Daddy and Mase for Biggie Smalls. Tupac Shakur went on to release multiple albums after his death. Puff Daddy went on to become P-Diddy, date and lose J-Lo, and steal songs, add a few elements, and sell them as his own. Mase went on to find Christ and is now back, cleaned up.

O.C. Supertones - We Shall Overcome, One Voice, Supertones Strike Back, Return of the Revolution
Like Five Iron Frenzy, one of the main Christian ska bands of the 1990s. Unlike FIF, I got to see them in concert and hopefully may get to see them on their farewell tour this year. Their albums Supertones Strike Back and Chase the Sun were their best, though portions of Loud and Clear and Revenge of the OC Supertones are also pretty good. Their live album is fantastic. Chorus from One Voice: "And can we sing with one voice, if we all love the same God, can we agree to disagree?"

Offspring - Hit That, Pretty Fly
With Green Day, probably one of the premier pop-punk bands still around. Often very pointed in their message, Hit That is about the troubles associated with the hook-up culture. Chorus from Hit That: "Everybody's getting with I say, consequences are a lot but hey that's the way it, that's the way it goes."

Sponge - Plowed, Wax Ecstatic
These guys broke up pretty much the day before I learned about them. Again, Country Rock. It turns out that all my friends grew to hate Wax Ecstatic, as it was played to death one summer while I was at camp and thus immune.

Weezer - Hash Pipe, Island in the Sun, Undone - The Sweater Song
Who doesn't like geek-surf-rock band Weezer? From slow builders like Undone to repetitive ditties such as Hash Pipe, they've just got a catchy and infectious sound. Chorus to Undone: "If you want to destroy my sweater, pull this thread as I walk away. Watch me unravel, I'll soon be naked. Lying on the floor, I've come undone."

Wisecracker - Porque Te Vas, Ya Paso, Ambition
This German ska band seems to have a penchant for singing in Spanish. Porque Te Vas is a cover of some Spanish pop-tart's song, while Ambition is all about the singer's lack thereof. Very catchy, though mostly unintelligible.



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