Sunday, January 10, 2010

Writer’s Jukebox – Back Again in Twenty Ten

We’re back in full swing here at Charge Shot!!!, and that means the return of our weekly cavalcade of music recommendations.  Be thankful I’m not contributing, as the continual loop of “Christmas Time is Here” and “Auld Lang Syne” that's currently playing in my head is something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone.

Stephanie seems to have fared better with her New Year’s themed entry, and Pankin’s ringing in 2010 with a psychedelic trip to the 1970s.  Gene…well, Gene’s having some computer troubles.  So he’s taking music where he can get it.

Pankin – A Serious Case of Floyd on the Brain

Recently I've been branching off into the more subtle side of progressive rock through Pink Floyd. The awesome riffs and blazing speed of Rush, the technical wizardry of Yes, and the haunting mystery of King Crimson all provide fun and rewarding listens - even the mindblinding savagery of Dream Theater has its place in the canon - but when you need to take things down a notch, there's no better choice than Floyd.

So far I've remained pretty blissfully unaware of Pink Floyd's history, and I'm content to keep it that way for the present, letting their music wash over me as an entity in and of itself, uninfluenced by any kind of context. Thus, I can't really say for sure if there is any empirical justification in tagging them with the label psychedelic rock. But there is definitely something about their music that calls forth the experience of freeing one's mind from its ordinary fetters... at least musically. Rhythmic and melodic themes cut through their albums so subtly that you almost don't notice them except subconsciously, or after several careful listens. Their unique and compelling sound picture (supplemented by saxophone and synthesizers) definitely makes for a wild sonic ride.
And they produce the same kind of magic lyrically, tackling poignant and scary themes such as societal corruption, or individual breakdown in ways that are still somehow pleasant to listen to. It's like they take pleasure in making the disturbing as palpable as possible.

I don't mean to gush, but when I get on a kick like this, I tend not to be able to talk of much else. Lavish praise aside, yeah, Pink Floyd's pretty talented and groundbreaking, I guess. I'd recommend listening to some of their albums, if you want.

Stephanie – Powering Through the Aughts

My house hosted a pretty sizable New Year’s Eve Party, and one of the activities I provided was a “Best Songs of the Decade” power hour. I know we’ve moved on to 2010, and the reflecting time is mostly over, but I feel compelled to share my thoughts.

The experience was insanely fun. “Best” was loosely defined, and had little to do with song quality. My roommates and I scoured the billboard lists, the hot selling lists, and various other internet rankings for inspiration. The nostalgia that both I and my captivated partiers experienced with its completion was a real kick (yes, I kept over twenty drunken guests captivated for a whole hour, and had most of them singing). There were so many songs that I had completely forgotten about (A Thousand Miles, Higher, In The End) or felt a guilty pleasure about during their popularity that I have since kept deeply hidden (Big Pimpin, Since U Been Gone, Hey Ya). It carried the thrills of a “best of the 19X0’s” playlist but with the added bonus of having a significant impact on my developmental years.

What was the most interesting to me was that in the beginning, I was tempted to rename the power hour to “Songs That You’re Glad You’ve Forgotten About,” because of the large number of really obnoxious songs included (Cry Me A River, Milkshake, Drop It Like It’s Hot, Hollaback Girl). But then I realized that with the passing of time, I have developed a deep appreciation for songs that I once hated at the peak of their popularity. The quality songs were just as much fun to reminisce over as the irritating ones. Even songs in genres that I typically avoid (Rap, Pop, R&B) were cherished. It was likely the nostalgia that got to me, because I noticed that as we got closer to the 2009, I started running out of songs and interest. At first I was tempted to say that this was because popular music these days sucks, but then I remembered that I’ve been saying that for the last ten years.

Gene – Let’s Get This Party Hampstarted!

I started the new year off by watching my laptop die in my hands (it had a rough, unreasonable life), so I have had to do without a lot of music I had inexplicably left on my C: drive.  Rather than load my girlfriend's laptop up with mp3s I will only listen to once, I've taken to the internet stream machine.  Not Lala or Pandora though, just weird unrelated tracks and YouTube clips from the miasma.  Fortunately, there are enough music videos on the internet that I could probably run out of sticks to shake at them.  I would like to call your attention to a video of a man playing "Paranoid Android" on lettuce.  He gets about half of the way through it and runs out of lettuce.  That sounds stupid, yes, but it is rather beautiful. 

Sometimes, I don't want to mope around listening to vegetables.  So I party.  Hampster party.  Just in case anyone was wondering, HampsterDance is alive and groovin'.  The Hampsters have dropped some fresh new tracks and remixes of old classics to soil your richest of childhood internet memories.  To cool down from that banger, it is nice to hear every KK Slider song from Animal Crossing at oncegene jukebox

And because it's January, it's good to keep warm thoughts.  Here is"Vamos a la Playa" by the Italian electronica duo, Righeira.  This song was justifiably huge in the 80s all over the world, but never quite caught on here.  The titular "playa" is actually caused by a nuclear holocaust in the lyrics, but that's probably the warmest beach of them all!  Incidentally, I came across the 7" for this song, which has a Spanish and Italian version on either side and some incredible cover art.