The Friday Five: January 3, 2014

Friday Five : |ˈfrīdā – fīv| : On the sixth day of every week, I hit the shuffle button in iTunes and share the first five tracks and thought for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, occasionally we’ll have a guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up the media player of your choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

The Five:

Hey guys, I’m back! Did ya miss me? I’ll admit that last week’s intermission was unplanned, but it afforded me a much-needed break. I thought it only appropriate to ring in the new year with a look back at some of my favorite tracks of 2013, so I gathered up the “five star” tunes into a playlist and hit “shuffle.” Happy New Year, my faithful friends, here is to shuffling through another year! —MP

“Number City” by Coheed and Cambria (from The Afterman: Descension, 2013)

I’m well aware that Coheed and Cambria isn’t everyone’s bag, but I love the snot out of them. Their last record cycle brought me soundly back into the fold—or fence, if we’re speaking in the Coheed parlance—and reignited my interest in the overarching storyline behind the band’s discography. I could have easily shuffled any one of the tunes off The Afterman: Descension, as there isn’t a stinker among the bunch. “Number City” is probably the least “Coheed” track on Descension, yet it is most indicative of the exact reason why I dig them so much. Wearing their affinity for The Police on their sleeve, the track delivers a pop rock wallop with a fun sing along climax.

“Bound 2″ by Kanye West (from Yeezus, 2013)

You can say what you want, but Yeezus is a significant developmental step in ‘Ye’s career. Bringing Rick Rubin in to deconstruct his finished compositions—largely (presumably) stripping them of their typical ‘Ye idioms—is a step that I don’t think is given enough shine. Then there is “Bound 2″ which is likely the most “‘Ye” tune that West has put out in nearly five years. It’s too bad he had to go and ruin the damn thing with that video.

“New Constellation” by Toad the Wet Sprocket (from New Constellation, 2013)

I’ll admit that I was a little bit skeptical when I contributed to Toad’s Kickstarter. I mean, I had zero concerns about the band’s ability in performing the songs that they had written 15 years prior, but Glen—and Randy and Dean, separately—has taken on his own distinct voice in the last ten years. Every bit of skepticism was positively blown away when I first heard “New Constellation.” It was as if the band had never stopped; retaining the sound and feel that was immediately familiar, without sounding the least bit dated. The record itself took a few spins to really sink it, but in a way that the songs revealed themselves slowly and with purpose. If you haven’t picked this record up yet, I highly recommend it. If I were playing favorites, this would be the one for me.

“Diane Young” by Vampire Weekend (from Modern Vampires of the City, 2013)

I have a strange relationship with Vampire Weekend’s music; I don’t know that they would come to mind when discussions of favorite bands came up, yet I continually love their records without fail. Modern Vampires of the City is no exception, either. They seemed to have shed some of the overt Paul Simon influence and transformed it into a sound that can only be defined as uniquely Vampire Weekend.

“Break It to You Gently” by Camera Obscura (from Desire Lines, 2013)

Twee! With all the pastoral bliss of a rolling Scottish hillside, the latest Camera Obscura record might well have been titled Camera Obscura Sing More Sweetly Sad Songs About Love, but that would defeat the purpose, wouldn’t it? Tracyanne Campbell delivers her lovelorn tales with such a syrupy sweet demeanor that you almost forget just how heartbreaking the lyrics tend to be. Desire Lines isn’t my favorite Camera Obscura record, but it has the potential to be.

What’s on your shuffle today?

  • Phil

    “New Constellation” by Toad the Wet Sprocket (from New Constellation, 2013)

    Not my favorite track from the album but definitely one of my favorite 2013 releases. It was nice to see TTWS come back so strong.

  • Phil

    I’m doing a normal, plan vanilla Five since I don’t rate the music in the ol’ iTunes library.

    The Beatles – “I Will” (The Beatles (White Album), 1968)
    I love this McCartney-penned tune from the White Album. Simple, short, and sweet, I would never have guessed it took 67 takes to get it right.

    Cheap Trick – “You’re All Talk” (In Color: The Unreleased Steve Albini Sessions, 1998)
    Late 90’s as-yet-officially-unreleased version re-recorded by Steve Albini that supposably captures a sound much closer to what the band originally intended before Tom Werman managed to castrate the band, their fiery live sound, and the entire album. According to (the mostly reliable) Wikipedia, Rick Nielsen claimed in 2010 that Albini’s version of In Color had been finished and would be released “in the not so distant future.” Still waiting…

    The Police – “King of Pain” (Message in a Box: The Complete Recordings, 1993)
    I was totally infatuated with everything about this song back in the day.

    R.E.M. – “Stumble” (Dead Letter Office, 1987)
    From back when I still liked R.E.M.

    Queensrÿche – “9:28 a.m. / I Am I” (Promised Land, 1994)
    Funny how the Beatles did so much more with 1:45 than Queensrÿche did with album opener “9:28 a.m.” Since this is basically a throwaway track—and makes no sense to whatever supposed theme or concept the album pretends at—I included the next song “I Am I.” I appreciate this much more than when it originally came out. Back then I thought the guys had lost their minds.

  • Michael Parr

    It’d actually be hard to pick a favorite track from that record. I might gravitate towards “Rare Bird,” “The Moment,” or “California Wasted.” Oh, hell … it’d be hard to pick a favorite.

  • Phil

    Agreed. I waffle on my favorite every time I listen, although I love, love, LOVE “I’m not Waiting,” one of the songs sung by Todd on the album and one I’m guessing he brought fully-formed to the proceedings.

    The only song that really throws me is “I’ll Bet On You” since I know it originally as the album opener “See You Again” from Todd’s Near Tonight Lapdog album.

  • Mordalo

    I don’t use iTunes, and I’m incredibly stingy when it comes to giving five stars to music. Out of the 19,273 in my library, only 16 of them have five stars. Since is the Friday Five and not the Friday 16, I’ll just share my top 5.

    1) Earl Klugh – Goodtime Charlie’s Got the Blues
    My all-time favorite song. It centers me, calms me and is just beautiful.

    2) Oscar Peterson – Night Train
    When this comes on, the volume goes to 11. It’d go higher if it could.

    3) Dave Brubeck – La Paloma Azul
    One of the finest pieces done by an incredible talent. Got this on his Love Songs CD.

    4) Cannonball Adderly – Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
    Sometimes we just don’t know what to do when adversity takes over…

    5) Duke Ellington – Tenderly
    Another one that gets cranked as high as it can go. It’s so beautiful.

    Yeah, most of my “starred” music is Jazz instrumentals. Ain’t nothing else comes close.

    Happy 2014!

  • Rock_dawg

    I’m not as stingy with the 5 stars as Mordalo, but I also use them sparingly: Mostly for all-time favourites and whatever song I’m really into at the moment. Therefore from 2013 releases I only would have 7 to choose from (and two of them are “Get Lucky”). So I’m going to work from the most played 4 and 5 star tracks and skip any that I’ve talked about already this year.

    “Hollow” – Alice In Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
    I wasn’t as in to this album as I was Black Gives Way To Blue (which I wasn’t into as much as their previous work), but AIC remain one of the key bands of my late teens and I’m so glad they’re back and I’ll listen to anything they put out there. “Hollow” is a great example of everything I love about the band: a slow, steady, grinding groove with those distinctive, nasty vocal harmonies. Not to mention the amazing melodic shift for the bridge. (One of my 5 star tracks and the most plays of any 2013 release, btw.)

    “Sad Angel” – Fleetwood Mac, Extended Play
    I think I’ve written about them enough, that it’s no secret to my fellow Fivers that I am a big Mac/Lindsey Buckingham fan. This 4 track, independently released EP is great and a mostly Lindsey affair.

    “You’ve Got The Look” – The Lonely Island with Hugh Jackman & Kristen Wiig, The Wack Album
    I find this track hilarious, but I’m having a hard time explaining why without being crude or giving away the twist of the song. I also like that they got Hugh Jackman to sing something so ridiculous.

    “Ain’t It Fun” – Paramore, Paramore
    I was out walking late this spring. I was tired, hot and had a long, steep incline ahead of me and this peppy little motivator came up on shuffle. It was the first time I heard it and if it didn’t come on, I might not have gotten up that hill!

    “Most People” – Dawes, Stories Don’t End
    Stories Don’t End is just as excellent as previous album Nothing Is Wrong. If you like Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, the Eagles and the rest of that 70’s laid back singer/songwriter, roots/rock sound, you owe it to yourself to check out Dawes.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Rock_dawg

    I was never a big fan of the band, but there was a free EP download offered at some point from somewhere (wouldn’t be surprised if I heard about it from either of you guys) and “New Constellation” is one of my most played tracks of 2013. The rest of the album is on my mental “I should get that” list.


    “Lick A Shot” by Cypress Hill: I think this is from “Black Sunday,” which was their second album. But Cypress Hill is one of those groups that was almost completely useless after one classic record.

    “Square Dance” by Eminem: One thing I’ve realized lately about Eminem is how little he’s grown musically in fifteen years. Every artist (regardless of genre) that I like has experienced some kind of growth over the course of their career. It’s certainly possible in rap. The Roots don’t sound the way they did in 1995. Jay Z doesn’t sound the way he did in 1997. Kanye doesn’t sound the way he did in 2004. Eminem has moved barely an inch since 1999, and the returns have diminished greatly, to the point where I can barely listen to him anymore. Even his older tracks-like this one-leave a bad taste in my mouth nowadays. And he still sells records. Fuck me.

    “Back In The Day” by Chaka Khan: We were supposed to get a new Chaka Khan album last year. It didn’t happen. This makes me sad, especially since her previous album “Funk This” (from which this song originates) was so good. Still my vote for the best female singer of her generation (even better than Aretha, IMO.)

    “Easier Said Than Done” by Rahsaan Patterson: This (criminally underrated) singer definitely listened to a lot of Chaka records when he was growing up. Their phrasing can be eerily similar sometimes. They should do a duet.

    “Spies” by Coldplay: Not my favorite song from “Parachutes.” For whatever reason, I’m not feeling this track today. I think I have to be in a particular place to properly enjoy this, and I’m not there right now. This is a good thing. Happy New Year.

  • Mordalo

    The stars must be saved! :)

  • Phil

    “Hollow” – Alice In Chains, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
    “Hollow” is a great example of everything I love about the band: a slow, steady, grinding groove with those distinctive, nasty vocal harmonies. Not to mention the amazing melodic shift for the bridge.

    And they put out one heck of a creepy video to go along with it.

  • Dennis Corrigan

    I’ll take another spin through 2013 –

    1. “Looking At Her” by Paul McCartney from NEW. A year of surprises from Sir Paul. First, a a tour that was damn good (caught him at Fenway, and was blown away, literally) followed by an out of nowhere record that was also very good. Then there was the day he showed up at a high school a couple of blocks from my office and played in Time Square.

    2. “Auldie Riggs Dance” by Richard Thompson from Electric Another solid record from a British veteran. Got to cross seeing him do “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”off my bucket list

    3. “Break My Heart Sweetly” by John Moreland from In The Throes. One of my favorite records of the year. Excellent songs and songwriting.

    4. “Songs That She Sang in the Shower” by Jason Isbell from Southeastern. Hands down my favorite record of the year. I won’t even try to describe it, especially when Rob Smith has done it so eloquently not once ( but twice ( for this fine site. A very powerful record that puts Isbell in the discussion for best songwriter going these days.

    5. “Feel Good” by Booker T. Jones from Sound the Alarm. Another master at work.

    Here’s to more great music in 2014

  • jhallCORE

    Really enjoyed Thompson’s Electric album as well. Glad to hear you caught Thompson doing 1952 Vincent Black Lightning live. Saw him live years ago in between opening act Susan Werner and headliner Joan Armtrading at the Mann Music Center. Thompson did 14 songs solo on acoustic guitar and it was fantastic. I really need to check out the Jason Isbell album as Rob has suggested.

  • jhallCORE

    Interesting collection this week but they seem to fit together well …

    1) Dixie Chicks – “Everybody Knows” (Taking The Long Way, 2006).
    2) Steve Earle (with Lucinda Williams) – “You’re Still Standing There” (I Feel Alright, 1996).
    3) Bruce Springsteen – “All That Heaven Will Allow” (Tunnel Of Love, 1987).
    4) Joe Henderson – “Beatrice” (State Of The Tenor, Vols. 1 and 2: Live At The Village Vanguard, 1986).
    5) Bruce Springsteen – “Valentine’s Day” (Tunnel Of Love, 1987).

    Enjoy the weekend.

  • B-ROCK

    Minor Alps – “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands” (Get There)
    I’m a sucker for finely-crafted power pop with a chorus you can bellow in the shower. I’m also a sucker for Juliana Hatfield whose own choruses have been in heavy rotation in my shower for years. Throw in Matthew Caws of Nada Surf and you have the perfect storm.
    Robert Pollard – “I Killed A Man Who Looks Like You” (Honey Locust Honky Tonk)
    One of Bobby P’s most memorable songs if for the title alone. Quite a feat when you consider the 100 or so he releases each year.
    Tedeschi Trucks Band – “Do I Look Worried” (Made Up Mind)
    I’ve been slowly gravitating away from what I consider pre-fab manufactured by a computer music such as hip-hop and inching more towards real musicians making real music. Janis, er Susan and her hubby Derek fit that bill to a tee.
    Steve Earle – “21st Century Blues” (The Low Highway)
    Yes, I remember we were supposed to have flying cars by now and so does Earle. Big comeback year for Steve-O, by the way. And I finally got to cross him off my bucket list.
    Houndmouth – “Casino (Bad Things)” (From The Hills Below The City)
    Local band makes a big splash. Always good to see.
    Other tunes that perked up my ears in 2013:
    Beck – “I Won’t Be Long,”
    Arcade Fire – “Normal Person,”
    Matthew Sweet & Suzanna Hoffs – “How Soon Is Now,” and
    J. Roddy Walston & The Business – “Black Light.”

  • Michael Parr

    I have a pretty simple rating system. Given the volume of music in my library, I have to keep it simple. It breaks down like so: (1) reserved for skits, spoken passages, etc.; (2) on a normal day, I’d skip this tune; (3) I dig it (I mean, it’s in my library … right?)—this is also the default rating that everything starts with; (4) I really like this song, I might even listen to it twice in a row, I might skip it if I’m not in the mood; (5) a favorite, never-skip, regardless of mood tune. Out of 60-some-odd thousand tunes, there are a few thousand five star tunes.

  • Michael Parr

    On your five … I really STRONGLY disliked the new Lonely Island record. I tried to like it, but I just couldn’t get there, despite really liking the first two.

    On the subject of Paramore: there are at least three songs on that record that qualify for the five start treatment, and “Ain’t If Fun” is on that list. I’m glad to see that Miss Williams is stretching out a bit and allowing her pop tendencies to shine.

  • MC_Snocap

    A “five star” Friday 5? Geekiness pays off! I’ve been assigning five star ratings to the best track on an album, allowing more stars for bigger albums (About 20 songs? Two of them get 5-starred. 30 or so? 5-star three.) So not all five-star songs are equal, but the idea was to have a reserve of the best 10th of my collection, stuff that stands on its own regardless of sequence. And you, Parr, are retroactively encouraging this nonsense. I thank you.

    1. “Runaway” by Del Shannon (1961, off American Bandstand’s Greatest Hits of the Century)
    I used to disparage this song, with its thin sonics and whiny organ and high-pitched wah-wah-wah. Older me now sees younger me as a snotty brat. You’ll learn, punk.

    2. “Skyscrapers” by OK Go (2010, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky)
    I can accept that, after two power pop albums, OK Go wanted to change course. This album’s explorations are more “interesting” without necessarily being as consistently satisfying. This song, though, is absolutely aces. It’s slinky and clammy in a way that couldn’t have happened had the band not made a left turn.

    3. “Drugs (Electricity)” by Talking Heads (2004 reissue, The Name of This Band is Talking Heads)
    Underrated benefit of live recordings: Comprehending lyrics you couldn’t make out on the studio version.

    4. “Crosseyed and Painless” by Talking Heads (1980, Remain in Light)
    Wow, double play. Immediate reaction: This not-remastered recording sounds dark and dull after the upgrade at #3. WB ought to put the remasters back on the market – this time without that notorious DualDisc format.

    5. “Genius of Love” by Tom Tom Club (1981, Tom Tom Club)
    Hey, waitaminute…. Tina and Chris, Queen and King of this Friday 5.

  • Michael Parr

    1. That totally could be a Coheed video if they had the funding to do something like that. Hell, that could be Sirus and Meri.

    2. Damn, that is creepy.

  • Michael Parr

    I think Black Sunday has its share of classic material, but further than that I have no use for them.

    I have the single that Chaka released in 2013; I’ll be sad if the rest of that material never comes out.

  • Michael Parr

    The Matthew Sweet / Suzanna Hoffs version of “I Would Die 4 U” is definitely on my favorite of 2013 list.

  • Michael Parr

    I guess I need to get that Jason Isbell record, huh?

  • The Blerd Formerly Known As Bi

    THAT was the song on the Paramore record that hooked me once and for all.

  • The Blerd Formerly Known As Bi

    First Cypress Hill album is a 10. Black Sunday is maybe a 6.5. Nothing else is above, like, a three.

  • The Blerd Formerly Known As Bi

    I know a guy.

  • Michael Parr

    I’m glad I can encourage such nonsense!

    I recall someone—I can’t see to remember who, and can’t find it at the moment—covered “Runaway” in the ’80s and that totally won me over. I love the original with utter abandon,

  • Dennis Corrigan

    I cannot recommend the Isbell record enough. Seriously.

  • Michael Parr

    I’m a huge Drive-By Truckers fan—last year’s Patterson Hood record was in my Favorites list—I just haven’t connected with this one yet.

  • Rock_dawg

    Since you bring it up…
    I’m only clocking in at around 27,000 and don’t rate everything (How could I rank Beatles songs?!?), but I like to use stars for new releases to help me highlight the songs I like. And ratings can rise or fall as I see fit. My system goes like so:
    5: as I said, all time favs and what I really digging right now
    4: great song, want to hear it often, keep in steady rotation
    3: good song, don’t love it, don’t hate it
    2: meh, not feeling it and likely to get the boot when I clean house
    1: crap, irritates me, getting deleted as soon as I sync. Or has a glitch or error and I need to re-rip or download.

  • Rock_dawg

    Same boat. Since I dug that song, I got in to the rest of the album, then went back to check out the previous albums I’d ignored previously.

  • Rock_dawg

    The Wack Album is certainly the weakest of their albums and does seem more obnoxious for some reason, but there’s still a few gems in there.

  • EightE1

    Cold, cold, cold
    Freezing, it was freezing in that hotel

    A day late, but what the hell …

    Van Morrison, “Brand New Day.” There are some records I never tire of, and Moondance is one of them. I wish I could liquify it and take a swig every so often. I think I’d feel more soulful most days, sexier every third swig, maybe more Irish as well. I’d certainly sing better, and I’d find myself surrounded by great background singers more or less constantly. Better still, I’d like to turn the record into a cloud that follows above me everywhere I go (instead of that black cloud that’s up there now), and that plays one of ten great songs whenever I enter a room. That’d work nicely. Coulda used that shit when I was younger.

    Bruce Springsteen, “Downbound Train.” Born in the USA turns 30 this summer. The black-and-white-to-technicolor musical moment for an adolescent me. I absolutely HAVE to write about it, and I’m sure I will. “Now I work down at the carwash where all it ever does is rain.” I’ve had that job.

    David Gray, “Ain’t No Love.” I hope we hear more stuff from him this year. Maybe that it would do me good / If I believed there were a god / Cut in the starry firmament / But as it is that’s just a lie / And I’m here eating up the boredom / On an island of cement.” Yes.

    Johnny Cash, “Home of the Blues.” If there is a God, I’m pretty sure he sounds like Johnny Cash.

    Ramones, “Needles & Pins.” Or maybe he sounds like Joey Ramone. Yeah, I think that’d be pretty cool.