Sunday, March 7, 2010

Writer’s Jukebox – Oscars? Oscar’s What?

Yes I realize this isn't from the rumble in the jungle. As I write this, I’m watching Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin tear each other (and the entire Academy) a new one at the Oscars.  If you really love Hollywood, take a look back at Pankin’s predictions for the Oscar for Best Original Score.  If you’re just here for the tunes, please keep reading.

Roberto reminds us all that Broken Social Scene’s worth out time and (maybe) money.  Andrew wanted to write about The Hours’ “Ali in the Jungle,” but I wouldn’t let him.  So he bought a Muse album and the new record by “that band Cracker.”  Oh, the 90s.  As for me, I probably listened to “Ali in the Jungle” at least fifteen times this week. 

So…yeah.  You can guess what I’m talking about today.

Rob – Re-coming onto the Scene

We haven't heard much lately from Canadian commune/indie outfit Broken Social Scene. Their last full-length was 2005's eponymous LP.  Broken Social Scene was well-received, but generally considered to be less than 2002's near-perfect You Forgot In People.

BSS need not return to form. They have not fallen from grace. But judging by "World Sick," a free-to-download 8-minute epic, Broken Social Scene will transcend on May 4 with Forgiveness Rock Album.

Fans will recognize the signature sprawl - guitars loop and lace through a chugging tribal beat before exploding into a chorus that stretches to the horizon. The song may be tinged with weariness and disillusion, but BSS sound anything but. They sound in love.

Treat yourself to a free download here.

Andrew – Taking the Information Superhighway back to the 1990s

Craig seems to think that he can just call "Ali in the Jungle," like he owns it or something. I won't write about it, but it's because I don'twant to, not because of him.

After downloading "Ali in the Jungle" from Amazon MP3, I decided I'd dig through the rest of their on-sale offerings to see what I could see. One of my finds was Muse's Black Holes and Revelations. It's a great album if you like Muse's shtick (high-pitched warble, dense guitars, 32nd notes), though it's not going to change your mind about the band if you don't care for them. Highlights include the insistent riff of "Map of the Problematique" and Guitar Hero mainstay "Knights of Cydonia."

Amazon also transported me to the distant past. Remember the 90s? Remember that song "Low" by that band Cracker? Well, apparently they are still around - still! - and they're still putting out albums, and they still sound exactly the same as they did fifteen years ago. Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey is by no means an essential listen or a masterful album, but it does showcase Cracker doing what Cracker does, delivering alt-rock with a hint of a twang. Put on "Tune In Tune Out Drop Out With Me" or "Shine a Light," grab some Dunkaroos, and unearth your fullscreen VHS copy of Jurassic Park - you'll feel like it's the 90s all over again.

CraigRocking at All Hours

I can, in fact, call “Ali in the Jungle” if I want.  I first heard The Hours’ 2006 single during this year’s Winter Olympics.  Nike ran a commercial featuring the song, and I immediately purchased it from iTunes.

The prechorus “Everybody gets knocked down/How quick are you gonna get up?” is just so damn invigorating.  It’s not quite uplifting.  It’s not just a kick-me-when-I’m-down taunt.  It’s a blunt challenge.  As if that weren’t enough, the chorus then goes on to list people who’ve faced insurmountable odds: Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, Joe Simpson, Helen Keller, Tony Adams, and Ludwig Van Beethoven.  Your problems cannot outweigh what these people dealt with.  And The Hours want to remind you of that.

The music’s decidedly pop indie rock.  A piano sets the mood over the ticking clock of the drums.  Guitars underpin the vocals throughout the first half, and the bass rumbles joyously throughout the second.  I’ve listened to thirty-second samples of The Hours’ other material and I’m not entirely sold.  But “Ali in the Jungle” is exquisite.  Need further convincing?  Watch this:

When not glued to my laptop with The Hours on repeat, I’ve been commuting to a constant soundtrack of The Beatles.  A few days ago “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” supplanted the entirety of Rubber Soul as my favorite cut of the Fab Four’s oeuvre.  I’m not quite sure why.  Maybe it’s the way it emerges from the Abbey Road medley.  Or how Paul jumps playfully into falsetto on “And though she thought I knew the answer…”  Whatever the reason, I’m happy to keep it on repeat – until I learn all the words to “Hey Bulldog” anyway.