Tuesday, 26 April 2011

10 One-Hit Wonders Of The 90's

When one thinks of One Hit Wonders the decade that immediately leaps to mind is the 1980's. Sure, many bands came and went quickly within those 10 years, but the phenomenon didn't end there. Now when I say "One Hit Wonder" I mean, a group or artist that is really known for their one big hit. Sure they may have had multiple albums, and somewhere amongst those tracks there could be another catchy tune, but to the casual listener one hit was all there was. Also, i'm not saying it's a bad thing. They could have had no hits. Right?

1. Eagle-Eye Cherry - "Save Tonight"

I anticipated big things from ol' Eagle-Eye. From the get go he reminded me of a Ben Harper type, and i'm not ashamed to say I own this album Desireless. Sadly after the impact of "Save Tonight", his subsequent singles failed to garner much attention, but you had to know he'd try, as music runs in his family, from his jazz legend father Don to his sister Nehneh. This song is pure 1998.

2. Duncan Sheik - "Barely Breathing"

Still one of my favourites. Duncan Sheik's "Barely Breathing" is a fantastic song, even if it is his only hit. It's got catchy hooks, superb lyrics and a video that had 90's style and technique all over it. One thing I remember reading about Duncan was his motto about the way he dressed, it's something i've since adopted as my own: "Fashion over comfort" I salute you Dunk.
3. Tripping Daisy - "I Got A Girl"

The 90's had a plethora of songs that began with a simple guitar riff, I can almost envision the tab in my head. What can I say about this song? It's no wonder why it became a hit, and i'm sure most people (again like me) have a copy of I Am An Elastic Firecracker in their collection, but Tripping Daisy faded into obscurity and out of people's minds as the decade came to an end.

4. Shawn Colvin - "Sunny Came Home"

I really enjoy this track, I don't know what it is. Whether it reminds me of a simpler time when it was released, the unique guitar Colvin contributes or the story of a housewife torching her house in a pop song, I dig it. Shawn actually won a grammy award for this song, and then had her acceptance speech high jacked by Dirt McGirt. I think she's been on a few soundtracks as well, but nothing else as noteworthy as "Sunny Came Home".

5. Sponge - "Have You Seen Mary?"

I like Sponge and it kinda pains me to include them here, but I feel I must. Sponge are from Denmark, but this was their only major hit in North America. Some might recall "Plowed" or "Molly" but this was their finest. Maybe they are more successful in Europe, i'm not sure. I still feel this is one of the greatest songs produced in the 90's, one hit wonder or not.

6. White Town - "Your Woman"

Everyone has got to remember this song, it was impossible to ignore. White Town is Jyoti Prakash Mishra and the 1997 album Women In Technology was all recorded and produced in his home. The song baffled audiences with it's ambiguous lyrics and almost robotic scenery, but if you listen closely theres actually some wonderful piano playing throughout the song.

7. The Flys - "Got You (Where I Want You)"

The Flys got a raw deal, more so than most of the one hitters on this list. This song was included and got popular because it was featured in the movie Disturbing Behaviour and it's soundtrack. Fans of the song could simply buy the soundtrack instead of the Flys' album where the track was included. Too bad. This was kind of a portent of things to come in the late 90's early 00's with the whole rap-rock hybrid.

8. The Doughboys - "Shine"

Had to include a Canadian song, even though I found it difficult to think of a Canadian act from whom I can only remember one hit. Probably because of my country's CanCon laws, so radio stations and TV play as many Canadian songs as they can...which is fine, Canada's music rocks. Watch for a Canada Day list proving just that...

9. Primitive Radio Gods - "Standing Outside A Broken Phonebooth With Money In My Hand"

This one takes me back. It definitely stood out at the time of it's release and still gains new fans everyday. It samples B.B. King's "How Blue Can You Get?" and features poetic and thoughtful lyrics. I wished the Primitive Radio Gods had other songs of this caliber, it's almost timeless.

10. Chumbawamba - "Tubthumping"

What is a chumba and what the hell is "Tubthumping"? Probably the 2 most asked questions in music during 1997. Britain's Chumbawamba are known in their homeland for their politically charged music and public acts of defiance. In North America however, they are largely known for a song about drinking.

If you enjoyed this list and the others, please feel free to sign up and leave a comment! Even if you hated it! Make a request for a list you'd like to see! I'm eager to hear from the people I do this for. Cheers!
 - JZ

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Gerard Smith RIP

It's a little late, but I just learned of the passing of Gerard Smith, bass player and keyboardist  for TV On The Radio. One of my current favourite groups. Smith passed away Wednesday after a short battle with lung cancer. In honour here is "Hours" from the superb 2006 album Return To Cookie Mountain. -JZ

Monday, 18 April 2011

10 Great Songs Used In Movie Trailers

The title pretty much sums it up. Movies are a great way to discover some new music, eager directors often choose their favourite artists and include some of their best tunes in their flicks to not only give the artist more exposure, but reach out to fans of the band and hopefully get them into the theater to see the movie. These days you don't even need to wait until the movies out, trailers for the movie very often include songs that send people into a frenzy to find them. I know i've discovered a few tunes in this method. Here's a list of ten songs that I can think of that were used swimmingly in a movie trailer or that I discovered through said medium.

1. Band Of Horses - "The Funeral"
Movie: 127 Hours

No other way to start such a list. The powerful music of "The Funeral" fit the theme of the movie so well. The film is an adaption of Aron Ralston's book Between A Rock And A Hard Place and its the true story of how he was trapped in a crevasse and faced with the ultimate decision for his survival. "The Funeral" is a song that can get you lost in your own mind, a fitting backdrop for the tale of man with only his mind at his disposal at such a situation. The song starts around the 1:30 mark.

2. The Arcade Fire - "Wake Up"
Movie: Where The Wild Things Are

This trailer got me so horny for this flick I nearly trampled an 8 year old to get the first ticket on opening night. It's a more acoustic version of "Wake Up" used in the trailer but it fits it so well. The childhood innocence and freedom of imagination that Maurice Sendak's book is conveying marries The Arcade Fire's song perfectly. This is how you make a trailer. This.

3. The Caesars - "Jerk It Out"
Movie: Clerks 2

A different style of film from the first two, but it still gets a fun trailer treatment. "Jerk It Out" is a quirky, loose party jam that one would expect to find amongst the shenanigans of the "Askewniverse" (The fictional landscape wherein the majority of Kevin Smith's movies take place). The film was made because of a promise Smith made to Jason "Jay" Mewes: If Mewes could get clean and sober, he would put "Jay" in one more film. As a bonus we get a smidgen of "Goodbye Horses" by Q Lazarus, which Jay does a familiar dance to.

4. The Long Winters - "New Girl"
Movie: In The Land Of Women

I've never seen this movie, nor do I ever intend to, but I remember the first time I saw a trailer for it clearly. In 2007, after I just moved to Toronto and it came on the television....the final moments had an infectious little hook in there. After some online searching I discovered the song to be "New Girl" by The Long Winters. It's a great indie track and includes some wonderful lyrics. I couldn't find the trailer in question, so enjoy a live performance of the song.

5. Smashing Pumpkins - "The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning"
Movie: The Watchmen

This movie was in development hell for quite some time, but when it was announced the official release date would be 2009 and the first trailers started popping up most agreed it seemed worth the wait. The slow, dreary notes of the song fit the environment of the film.  A society dejected and lost, fed up with it's figures of authority and coming apart at the seems. The editing is impressive too, as key images link up with similar moments in the song. An interesting twist is The Smashing Pumpkins wrote the song for the soundtrack for 1997's woeful Batman & Robin. Thankfully it was given a second chance on the silver screen.

6. M.I.A - Paper Planes
Movie: Pineapple Express

Another song that caught a huge break from being included in a popular movie's trailer. It wasn't in the movie, but was released in late 2007 to a small rumble, by the time it was used in the trailer in late 2008 everyone was requesting "that gun-shot song".

7. Damien Rice - "The Blower's Daughter"/ Suzanne Vega - "Caramel"
Movie: Closer

It was a toss up between the 2 songs that make up 2005's Closer trailer, so I included them both in Void Drop's first tie! Not that this is a list in any order, but I feel they should both be recognized. Damien's "Blower's Daughter"  fits the emptiness and longing the 2 couples experience and 'Caramel' is a sexy tune that drips lust in the eyes of the characters and makes them forget the decency and order they once knew. I only watched Closer because I knew "The Blower's Daughter" was featured heavily in it and now its one of my favourite movies. Also the trailer features a great line not included in the film's final cut. "Why did you swear eternal love when all you wanted was excitement? Love bores you." "No, it disappoints me"
8. Coheed & Cambria - "Welcome Home"
Movie: 9

Again this is a film I never watched, but any movie that recognizes the awesomeness of Coheed and Cambria is good in my books. "Welcome Home" is the definition of an epic song if there ever was one, the chanting over the final minute sounds like an army riding into war. From what I can tell from the animated trailer is that this movie could be just that. Gotta remember to see this one day.

9. The Smiths - "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
Movie: (500) Days Of Summer

This trailer also features the over-used 80's movie montage sequence theme "You Make My Dreams Come True" by Hall and Oates, but it's the opening second's little exchange that clinches it for me. When the girl hears The Smiths coming through on Joseph Gordon-Levitt's headphones she can't help but comment, and from then on this is the girl for him. Music can have that effect in bringing 2 people together. Sometimes it just needs that little push to be something great and meaningful. Again, never seen this flick, but i've been told its right up my alley.

10. Dick Dale & His Del-Tones - "Misirlou"
Movie: Pulp Fiction

The history of "Misirlou" is a long tale about a song played on only one string. It was made out to be a good ol' rock and roll surfer song, but in 1994 QT got a hold of it and its had a dark side ever since. That was a time when movie trailers weren't really thought of as being creative or artsy, just show some clips, do a voice over and be done. "Misirlou's" contagious riffs bring an iconic feeling to the trailer, and really encapsulates the kaleidoscope of lifestyles the movie surrounds.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

20 Great Punk Songs

Heavy Metal was the first type of music I really got into. It's speed and aggression spoke to me. So it was without surprise that when I first heard of this music called "punk" I was excited that a new world of fast, angry music was waiting to be explored. Punk has had a long journey, generations of fans and its fair share of controversy. It's kind of the anti-genre, spawned from a tightly wound pop world, where the clean cut and happy go lucky masses ruled the airwaves. Dejected youth, tired from the formulaic symphonies, joined forces and made a form of music that could not be ignored. Most of the punk compilations I grabbed when I was younger crammed 20 to 30 songs on each CD, so instead of my usual 10 I give you 20 Great Punk Songs.

1. Against Me! - "You Look Like I Need A Drink"

From Gainesville Florida, Against Me! stormed on the scene in 2002 letting everyone know that energetic and raw punk was still out there. "You look like I need a drink" is from the 2003 album As The Eternal Cowboy, to this day it's one of my favourites. This song has non-stop energy, a catchy chorus and piercing vocals. Still have yet to hear a bad song from Against Me!

2. Misfits - "Bullet"

Glenn Danzig and his Misfits were one of the fore runners of Punk Rock and definitely the pioneers of the Horror-punk genre. Most of there songs are barely over 2 minutes and feature lyrics about unspeakable acts of violence and chaos. "Bullet" is from the infamous Static Age sessions, which to this day is one of the greatest punk debuts of all time.

3. Green Day - "Bab's Uvula Who?"

Green Day have evolved their sound significantly over the years, which i'm all for. Their early efforts however were punk masterpieces. Dookie usually gets all the glory, but I feel 1995's Insomniac was the stronger offering. It included the crunching track "Bab's Uvula Who?" With it's musical unity and speed it becomes the album's diamond in the rough.

4. The Ramones - "Commando"

The Ramones attracted crowds by singing short, lightning quick songs where the lyrics were easy to remember and be belted back at front man Joey Ramone. Though some listeners claim they have songs reminiscent of The Beach Boys, "Commando" is unmistakenly Ramones.

5. Hostage Life - "The Last Superman"

Hailing from the hulking metropolis of Toronto, Hostage Life pull no punches about what they are. Their 2007 album Walking Papers is full of satirical views of the corporate world and the suburban environment in which they thrive. Being Canadian is almost a birth-rite to having a sense of humour. "The Last Superman" just kicks ass.

6. The Clash - "Janie Jones"

Anyone who only knows "Rock The Casbah" and "Should I Stay Or Should I Go?" doesn't know shit. The Clash are one of the most important bands in punk rock, and perhaps rock music in general. Influencing countless modern acts and still being unmatched in song writing prowess. "Janie Jones" is the first song off their first record, I heard it and never looked back.

7. Rancid - "Journey To The End Of East Bay"

Rancid were a center piece of the punk revival in the early 90's. Forming out of the ashes of Operation Ivy, their song "Journey To The End Of East Bay" actually documents there times as a young, inexperienced punk group. The opening bass riff removes any doubts that Matt Freeman is one of the most impressive bass guitarists of our time.

8. Stiff Little Fingers - "Law and Order"

They became a household name when the 1998 film High Fidelity slipped a reference to the Stiff Little Fingers in a mid-movie scene. Using that recognizable UK punk sound "Law and Order" is straight shooting, protest song about how they were treated during the punk's infancy.

9. The Loved Ones - "Jane"

Not to be confused with the 60's group from Australia with the same name, America's Loved Ones formed in 2000. Signed to Fat Mike's record company Fat Wreck Chords after an impressive tour with NOFX and The Bouncing Souls, "Jane" is a wonderful offering from a young band with plenty of potential.

10. Black Flag - "Room 13"

Damaged was Black Flag's debut album and it was an unrelenting assault of screaming vocals, scathing guitars and all out punk energy. There are many iconic songs to choose from but "Room 13" is the left of center sleeper hit to me. It may take a few listens before it grows on you, but it will.

11. Rise Against - "Like The Angel"

I can remember seeing Rise Against at the 2003 Warped Tour and I knew I was witnessing something special. They had a unique sound and really got into their performance. The first song I heard by them was "Like The Angel" and i'll always associate that song with them first before any others.

12. Social Distortion - "Don't Drag Me Down"

Punk rock veterans Social Distortion embody what I think punk should be all about. They don't give a fuck what anyone thinks about them, or how they should act, dress or what kind of music they should play. I love their 1996 album White Light, White Heat, White Trash, possibly their most well known, but one of the least known songs on the record is my favourite: "Don't Drag Me Down".

13. The Distillers - "I Am A Revenant"

The Distillers win the award for the only band on the planet to use the word "Revenant" in their song title. Thankfully, the song kicks major ass. Brody Dalle, or whatever she calls herself these days, came from Australia to the LA punk scene when she was 18 to form The Distillers. Though short-lived The Distillers left their mark on punk-rock with songs like "LA Girl", "Drain The Blood" and "I Am A Revenant".

14. Iggy & The Stooges - "Search & Destroy"

Iggy Pop, the quintessential lead man, amazed a nation of punk fans with his on stage antics. 20 Years later he would amaze medical science by seemingly not aging a day. The Stooges were perhaps the earliest "punk" band and sounded like nothing else when they released their debut in 1969. Their swan song would come in 1973, however, in the form of "Search & Destroy", arguably the best lead off track of all time.

15. DBS - "Snowball"

dbs was a young punk group from Vancouver, BC formed in the early 90's. In true punk fashion their debut album Tales From The Crib has 23 tracks and was just over 30 minutes long. Their song 'Snowball' got considerable play on Much Music, which is how I came to know it, and remains their most popular to this day.

16. Heartbreakers - "Born To Lose"

The masterful guitar work of Johnny Thunders is center stage in this classic.  The Heartbreakers were part of the first wave of punk rock in the 70's and toured Europe just as the Sex Pistols were taking off there. "Born To Lose" is essential music listening, inside or outside of the punk genre.

17. Face To Face - "I Won't Lay Down"

Uncompromising and consistent are 2 adjectives i'd use to describe California's Face To Face. They stand along side some impressive names when it comes to the bands they've been associated with, but never cared too much for mainstream success. Their 1996 self-titled album provides many great songs, but "I Won't Lay Down" exemplifies the band perfectly.

18. Avail - "High Lonesome"

Formed in the 80's Northern Virginia's Avail have plugged along at their own pace since their beginning.  In 2000 they were signed to Fat Wreck Chords and released One Wrench which gave us the song "High Lonesome". The song definitely stands out from typical punk songs, but Avail is currently on hiatus and have been for some time. Unfortunately I couldn't find a video for it, but if you do some digging, you'll find it.

19. Time Again - "Lines Are Faded"

Newcomers Time Again bring a sound from a simpler time. Though they formed in 2005, their songs sound like those early 90's when bands like NOFX, Pennywise, Bad Religion and Rancid were gaining notoreity. In fact Time Again is signed to Tim Armstrong's Rancid Records. Check out "Lines Are Faded".

20. Bad Religion - "Sorrow"

Couldn't forget about these guys. Bad Religion have done so much for the punk music scene. Brett Gurewitz, who formed Epitaph Records, plays guitar for the group and has signed many punk acts to his label including NOFX, The Offspring, SNFU, Rancid and Down By Law. "Sorrow" may be a song of a later album, but it encapsulates Bad Religion's principles. Another one of my favourite concert moments was watching Bad Religion as the sun was setting. I was just on the skirts of the moshpit and all the dust getting kicked up into the air with the sun shining through it created a kind of golden haze. At that moment the band started playing "Sorrow" and it was a perfect backdrop for their performance.

Monday, 4 April 2011

10 Songs At Random

No inherent theme this week just going to put my library of songs on shuffle and pick the first 10 and write about them. It's one of many ways to hear new music whether it's old or new, and I hope, to some people, that's what this blog will become. So let's see where this takes us...

1. U2 - "Angel Of Harlem"

U2 is a band that is touch and go for me. Meaning, they have some songs I really enjoy and others that I can live without. 1988's Rattle and Hum was a different sort of album for U2, some live songs, some covers and some new songs all packaged to coincide with their documentary of the same name. "Angel Of Harlem" has that great feel from a time that music would ignite something deep in people's souls: The jazz era. Not only is it about Billie Holiday, but also references many other New York landmarks and Jazz center pieces.

2. Interpol - "Narc"

I'll admit I don't know much about the New York group Interpol. So I will retell a story I read about them in a guitar magazine I bought a few years back. Apparently during their first few years together their agent booked them at a Black Metal Festival in Europe without realizing the festival's genre. When Interpol showed up they instantly knew their post-punk revival act would not win the hearts of the marauding metal crowd. They approached the festival's organizer, faked sick and high tailed it back to safety.

3. New York Dolls - "Pills"

Hmm seems to be a theme developing here, all 3 songs so far have had ties to New York. The New York Dolls were pioneers of the punk scene in the states. Some notable figures who've passed through their ranks include Johnny Thunders, Blackie Lawless and Jerry Nolan. "Pills" was actually written by legendary blues-man Bo Diddley. The band originally split up in 1976 but reformed in 2005 with the 2 surviving members being joined by 2 new comers.

4. Silverchair - "Tomorrow"

1995's Frogstomp will go down as a pure 90's classic. Recorded in just nine days and unleashed on to a world that was still reeling from Nirvana's short-lived historic lifespan. While it's true record company's were eager to sign the next Cobain, Daniel Johns and the boys had staying power, unlike many of the Nirvana clones wrangled together in the mid 90's. Their last album Young Modern was released in 2007.

5. Stereophonics - "A Minute Longer"

I don't think these guys get enough recognition in North America. From Wales, The Stereophonics have been around since 1992. Lead vocalist Kelly Jones has a distinct, raspy voice that stands out from the typical Brit-pop twang. "A Minute Longer" is a great example of their song-writing abilities. Other notable tracks are "Hurry Up And Wait", "Since I Told You It's Over" and perhaps their biggest hit on this side of the pond, "Pick A Part That's New"

6. The Refreshments - "Banditos"

Ahh, remember this one? One Hit Wonders are generally brought together from that whacky decade of the 80's, but every ten year stanza has their fair share. This one was unleashed in 1996 and is undeniably catchy. I remember the album name clearly too, Fizzy Fuzzy Big & Buzzy. A little researched showed they did the King Of The Hill theme music, and not much else.

7. Guns N' Roses - "You Could Be Mine"

More 90's nostalgia! This one came to us from the Terminator 2: Judgment Day soundtrack and even featured the Governator in the video. This harkens back to a better time for ol' GNR, before Axl went schizo and that whole Chinese Democracy ordeal.

8. Mad Caddies - "Weird Beard"

I was going to use this one for the 10 Great Drinkin' songs lists, but I think I left it off in case I ever wanted to do a pirate themed list. From the aptly named 2001 album Rock The Plank, it's not to be confused with Fu Manchu's song "Weird Beard". This song is great in a crowd of old buddies swinging stein's of beer back and forth, and rambling on about days of plundering long since passed.

9. R.E.M - "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite"

Another great one from a classic 90's record. Automatic For The People really brought REM into the public's field of view. This one wasn't as well known as the album's other singles ("Man On The Moon", "Everybody Hurts" and "Nightswimming") but I enjoy it more than some of those on occasion and more than most of REM's catalog. It's just got a great pop-song format and it loops along playfully enticing the listener to follow, like some kind of piper. I believe the Sidewinder referenced here is a sort of telephone.

10. Silverstein - "Smashed Into Pieces"

On every list I do I try to include at least one Canadian group or artist. I'm a big fan of showcasing talent from my home to the rest of the world. Of course on a random list that wasn't guaranteed, thankfully Burlington, Ontario's Silverstein came through. These guys formed in 2000 and were doing the whole screamo thing before it was sprouting up like corn. "Smashed Into Pieces" is a fine introduction for anyone who have yet to be exposed to them.