Sunday, February 21, 2010

Songs named after the band

So lots of albums have a title track, and generally the stakes are a little higher for that song. You expect it to either be the best song in the album, or to carry some special significance in the album's message. And then, lots of bands have an eponymous album. It's often their first record, and they name it after themselves maybe to help get their name recognized more. We often expect the eponymous album to define the band's sound or style in a way.

But a song named after the band is exceedingly rare. There's something weirdly deliberate and recursive about an eponymous song, much more so than an album, so to me it's fascinating to find them. You're almost guaranteed to learn something about how the band sees itself. Many of them are anthems/mission statements, as you would expect, but many are not.

Wilco - Wilco (The Song).

Do you dabble in depression?
Is someone twisting a knife in your back?
...This is a man with arms open wide
A sonic shoulder for you to cry on
Wilco will love you, baby

A very accurate, and of course tongue-in-cheek, picture of Wilco. It's good to know they don't take themselves too seriously.

Belle and Sebastian - Belle and Sebastian. The band gets its name from a pretty old French novel of the same name. I don't read a word of French, but as far as I can tell, the characters in this song are modern versions of those from the novel, full of the band's usual adolescent unease and set to a catchy shuffle.

Okkervil River - Okkervil River Song. Gorgeous, folksy, and pretty much exactly what you'd expect this song to be about.

Built to Spill - Built to Spill. A great, grungy mission statement for a very under-appreciated band.

The Arcade Fire - The Great Arcade Fire. From a demo tape they recorded in their early days. Hilariously, it is quite literally about an arcade on fire.

The Rolling Stones - Like a Rolling Stone. I seriously can't believe it took them until 1995 to do this.

Flake Music - The Shins. Before they were called the Shins, they were Flake Music. Not their greatest song, but it's interesting nonetheless.

Sigur Rós - Sigur Rós. I have no idea what the hell this is.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feist makes your song better

So earlier I was thinking about how Feist seems to have become a franchise of sorts. This elusive, genie-like woman will come into the studio with your band and make one, just one, of your songs better. The only band I know of that has gotten her to make TWO of their songs better is the Kings of Convenience. Nor, as you'll see in this mixtape, is she limited to the breathy romantic indie pop you typically expect from her. Here are my favorite Feist collaborations.

Wilco - You and I
Feist and Ben Gibbard - Train Song
Gonzales - Shameless Eyes
Kings of Convenience - Know-How
Feist and the Constantines - Islands in the Stream (Dolly Parton cover)
Rubies - I Feel Electric (TieDye Remix)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Mixtape

A few newish songs and a few older ones you might have missed. Cuts from Yeasayer's and Joanna Newsom's upcoming releases, Beach House's recent album, Yoko Ono's not-so-recent album, and one very cool punk band from China who recently toured with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Islands - Disarming the Car Bomb
Beach House - Walk in the Park
Queen Sea Big Shark - Hard Heart
Joanna Newsom - Good Intentions Paving Company
Yoko Ono - The Sun is Down
Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out (Hot Chip Remix)
Yeasayer - O.N.E.
Anya Marina - Satellite Heart

Edit: So we got a DMCA takedown notice from some record label, particular to this post. Awesome.