I set my iPod on shuffle. Here's where it led me.
1. Chris Isaak, "Goin' Nowhere"
Here's some twangy, hip-swayin', pick-up-truck-drivin' tunes from the guy with the best pompadour, second only to Conan. It's not the best showcase of Isaak's heavenly voice, but it'll do. In the song he thinks he's got this girl figured out, and she's going nowhere with her good looks and bad behavior. Maybe he thinks he can save her. That's only happening if he serenades her.
2. Wavves, "Cool Jumper"
I love surprises like this I don't even remember putting this on my itunes, and I don't think I ever listened to it before. Apparently it's on DaKradha's Indie Rock Playlist September 2009. It's standard Wavves, here, with gritty, fuzz-chomping guitars, drowning out distorted lyrics on the most God awful recording device. Let's not forget the drumming of Marnie Stern (Hella) that could show up anything singer Nathan Williams does. Added bonus to this song: there are enough "ooh-ooh-ooh" harmonies/ whines to kill a kitten.
3. Nick Cave, "Nobody's Baby Now
Call me old fashioned, but I prefer Cave's epic murder ballads over his love songs. This song, however, is one of his better attempts at romance. The spook level isn't at zero, either. "I try to lay her ghost down/ but she's moving through me even now/ I don't know why and I don't know how/ but she's nobody's baby now." Something about Nick Cave singing these lines automatically makes it chilling. Is she in your basement, Nick, diced up into a million pieces? Because that's the vibe I'm getting.
4. Bob Dylan, "When I Paint My Masterpiece"
This isn't fair. What am I supposed to write about Dylan? You know this song, the one where he sings about traveling the streets of Rome. There's the Coliseum, the lions to dodge, a bumpy plane ride to Brussels, and "a dirty gondola." So all these things are symbolic of a struggle and a journey to find where he belongs in this big, bad world? Or perhaps the man went on vacation and this is his postcard of sorts, wish you were here kind of deal. Either way, I'm glad it wasn't "Gotta Serve Somebody," I hate that song.
5. Tom Waits, "Earth Died Screaming"
As always, Sandpaper Voice Waits (love of my life and possible future husband?) lays the imagery on thick with lines like "with crows as big as airplanes/ the lion has three heads/ and someone will eat the skin that he sheds." These lines coming from that haunting howl of his makes for eerie satisfaction. Plus the percussion here is great: do I hear bones rattling in a wooden box? Oh, Tom, you and your voodoo.
6. Nina Simone, "Feeling Good"
Finally, a lady makes it into the shuffle. And what a lady. Opening with her acapella, the song seamlessly goes into that sultry, brassy big band sound. And then when Nina comes in with her powerhouse voice and takes over the whole thing feels massive. I have to admit, though, the scatting at the end of the track always makes me feel a little awkward. I don't think it's necessary, but that's just me.
7. Au Revoire Simone, "Where You Go"
Sometimes icapod crane (that's my ipod's name) does this thing where the names of the artists relate in a bad version of the "same person" category on Wheel of Fortune. (I'm aware I just lost all street cred, and I'm ok with that.) This song is just another in a catalogue of painfully cutesy songs from three Brooklyn ladies and their keyboards. With their girly-girl vocals and crush-a-lot lyrics, Au Revoire Simone is like the slab of super sweet birthday cake you wish you didn't gobble down.
8. Rilo Kiley, "With Arms Outstretched"
This is probably the best song on a hit or miss album. Jenny Lewis, worry wort that she is, comes off fearless when she sings "If you want me/ you better speak up, I won't wait/ so you better move fast." It's simple, but it's direct and it sung with such decidedly even tone. The first three minutes of the song are gentle with Lewis' voice, acoustic guitars and maybe a xylophone, I'm not sure. But in the final 30 seconds you get hand claps and a bigger chorus of voices until it comes to an end, all too soon.
9. New Order, "Thieves Like Us"
The intro for this song is weird. It's lots of synths (duh, it's New Order) and they just keep going. You're expecting the vocals to kick in any second now, but you're left hanging. Then the intro keeps shifting directions and it starts to sound like a medley of tunes. As soon as you start to get into it and think that it's just going to be a quirky instrumental jam, the vocals pop up. And you kinda wish that they didn't, because the lyrics are dull and clichÃ©: "Love is the cure for every evil/ love is the air that supports the eagle." So not even kidding about that.
10. Django Reinhardt, "Shine"
Ah, French gypsy jazz from a dude with a mangled left hand, what could be better? Django used that hand to strum some of the sweetest banjo-guitar (or banjitar) tunes ever recorded. It's music that makes you wanna picnic with your baby, sipping old timey cocktails while wearing a giant Vogue hat. According to Google, the song was recorded in 1936, which further solidifies my picnic daydream.
Wanna do a 10 Track Mind? E-mail email@example.com.