Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Music Stuff

Recently, talk on the WXPN bulletin boards turned to summers at the shore (or as we in the Philly/South Jersey area say, “down the shore”). So we compiled some top-ten lists of songs about three of the best states to hit the beach: California, Florida, and New Jersey. Out of loyalty, I selected the New Jersey list to reproduce here (I substituted #6 and 8 for two other tunes):

1. 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2. Jersey Girl – Tom Waits
3. Hackensack – Fountains of Wayne
4. On the Way to Cape May – Al Alberts
5. Wildwood Days – Bobby Rydell
6. Atlantic City – Bruce Springsteen
7. I’m from New Jersey – John Gorka
8. Garden State Stomp – Dave van Ronk
9. Neptune Ciy – Nicole Atkins
10. No Left Turns in Jersey – Eddie from Ohio

List #2: I know the year isn’t even half over yet, but I already have a top 10 favorite albums list, which of course may look significantly different by the end of the year. So far, these are my ten favorites (some of which I've mentioned before):

1. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend (they do a very catchy Afro-pop kinda thing)
2. Bell X1 - Flock (released a year or two ago in their native Ireland but just available in the States in 2008)
3. R.E.M. - Accelerate (Their best since Monster, at least)
4. Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid (grossly underappreciated Brit band that is best described as Radiohead meets Coldplay)
5. Old 97's - Blame it on Gravity (after a power-pop detour, they're back to the alt-country stuff that they do best)
6. Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Fight (edgy, emotive stuff - an indie sleeper)
7. Marah - Angels of Destruction! (kick-butt alt-country/rock band from Brooklyn by way of Philly)
8. Allison Moorer - Mockingbird (fine covers album from Mrs. Steve Earle)
9. Melody Gardot - Worrisome Heart (Philly chanteuse does original, soulful jazz tunes as well as, maybe even better than, Norah Jones)
10. MGMT - Oracular Spectacular (fun neo-psychedelic band - "Time to Pretend" is a pretty catchy little ditty)

Bubbling under:
Ryan Bingham - Mescalito (it's a 2007 release, but XPN featured it in January, and I didn't hear it till this year - excellent alt-country from a 20-something guy with a voice like an old prospector)
She & Him - Volume One (actress Zooey Deshamel teams up with M. Ward for some frothy, entertaining pop with not a little homage to "girl groups" - the results are surprisingly good - are you listening, Scarlett Johannsen?)
Mike Doughty - Golden Delicious (not the near-classic that his previous CD, Haughty Melodic, was, but still pretty friggin' good)
Bob Mould - District Line (ol' Bob is mellowing out and experimenting with different studio techniques, but he's always interesting)
Cat Power – Jukebox (another album of covers with an original or two thrown in - pretty good stuff)

I also just got Kathleen Edwards’ Asking for Flowers, which has been getting excellent reviews, but I haven’t listened to it yet. I’m betting it will eventually crack my top 10, as will the new Death Cab for Cutie and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds albums, if and when I get them (the title track to “Dig, Lazarus, Dig” by Nick Cave is possibly my favorite song of the year so far). If you have a favorite album or two from this year, leave me a comment and maybe I’ll give it a listen.

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