Waking Ear

We have a pact, you and I. I write down what song I had in my head when I woke up in the morning. And, maybe, why. You click on "What's in your waking ear?" and tell me what's in your head right now. We discover new music and maybe learn something about how our minds work. Yeah?

Friday, November 29, 2002

Queens of the Stone Age/"No One Knows" -- I think Queens of the Stone Age write with more pop sensibility than most people give them credit for. This is one of those songs -- a tight, rock-solid beat, some quality riffs and a catchy chorus. Why is that stoner rock? Labels, man. Labels bring me down.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

McLusky/"To Hell With Good Intentions" -- The catchiest dumb-smart rock song of the year. Sing it. If anybody has heard this album and wants to give it a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down, please let me know. Sing it. This song is so promising -- witty lyrics with an infectious chorus, a driving, stomping bass line and some gimmicky guitar scratching at just the right moments. (Scr-scr-scree) Sing it. It's like if Rage Against the Machine stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb. Sing it!

Happy Thanksgiving to my U.S. comrades, by the way. I'm thankful for good music.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Cat Power/"He War" -- Chan Marshall's return to the album format seems to be causing quite a stir. What are my two cents, you ask? Well, I'll tell you.

I love Cat Power. I think she combines the jaded art-school-girlness of Nico or Stevie Nicks with the rawness of a singer-songwriter like Joni Mitchell. I don't consider that to be a bad thing, but I guess some people don't like it. I think they were dumped after very raw relationships with art-school girls.

Seriously, I think Matos' rant on Cat Power, linked above, is a tad misogynist. Which I'm sure wasn't intentional, and I wouldn't accuse anybody of being a woman-hater unless they really deserved it, and I'm not doing that here. But critics tend to dismiss very personal lyrics or very different approaches to rock, when they're done by women, as gimmicky. Just ask, um, Nico, Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell. The talents of the first two were attributed to their male bandmates for years, and the last one was largely diagnosed as the musical equivalent of a chick flick for much of her career.

Matos: "She needs to get out of the house more often." "Marshall's stubborn refusal to cultivate a mood other than petulant crabbiness." "The Covers Record amounts to a declaration of Chan Marshall's superiority to everything she touches." Yeah, she's just a bitch, isn't she?

It's one thing to not like her music, but Matos doesn't like her. And that doesn't happen much when critics review male musicians, except for Conor Oberst, who, in the estimation of many, is a little girly-boy.

Oh, yeah, "He War." It's a good song. You should download it.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

4 Strings/"Take Me Away" -- We have this new radio station in Dallas, KKDL 106.7. It plays all Eurodance, basically, with some old club hits like Prince's "Controversy." Which might sound annoying, but considering the state of Dallas radio, it's actually been really refreshing and different. And they've run with virtually no commercials so far. So, as a result, I have this throwaway club song in my head right now. I think I'm going to have to download it. This shit is like a virus.

Monday, November 25, 2002

Le Tigre/"Deceptacon" -- This great song popped into my head unexpectedly this morning. (It was actually while I was shaving, not waking up. But "Shaving Ear" sounds really weird.) The chorus ("Who put the bomb in the bomb-ba-lomb-ba-lomb...") turns teen pop into punk rock. And it's important to note that Kathleen Hanna was revisiting New Wave long before most of the current crop of critically acclaimed bands graduated from high school.

It seems that some visitors are getting a little frustrated with the trivia question. I say we set a deadline of Wednesday at noon Eastern time. That gives you all time to poll any music-loving friends, and if they know the answer, they can win the mix CD. And if they don't want it (hard to imagine), they can give it to you.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Seal/"Killer" -- Seal's first album was the shit -- acid house back when that still seemed cool. The car wreck shook all of the killer instinct out of him, so his later stuff, well, blows, but I'll still plug this cassette in every once in a while and jam to this and "Crazy," which the Girlfriend was humming this morning.

I've added Mr. Inskeep's trivia question to the sidebar. We'll do a new one occasionally and see if anyone can step to him. So far, no takers on the current question...

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Shopping/"Still Born Corpse" -- Not as scary as the title suggests. This is a break-up song, pure and simple, with superb lyrics, jangly guitars, and a killer bass line.

Disclaimer: one-half of this band is one of my best friends. So of course I'm biased. But if you like this song, let him know and get yourself a CD.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Flaming Lips/"Knives Out" -- I still like Radiohead's original better -- it's more detached and distant, and that feeling of numbness actually goes better with the song. But the Lips throw in that organ and other weird noises and it sounds more pent-up and paranoid, which is a cool effect.

I'm back from my trip, so posting should get back to normal hours soon. Thanks for popping by and being patient with me.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Eiffel 65/"Blue (Da Ba Dee)" -- This song has been in and out of my head ever since I read about this guy. In retrospect, Cher should've sung this song. It would have given it a little more class, sort of.

I'll be really impressed if anyone can answer Thomas Inskeep's trivia question.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Pink/"Get the Party Started" -- I think Pink's pretty bland and am not really a fan of this song. But, see, here's what happened. Chelle and I are both in Vegas right now on coinciding business trips, and we went out last night to this cheesy bar outside of Harrah's. There was a cover band out there that had quite an impressive range and a really gigantic bassist. He was huge. Anyway, the all-male band played this song, and it was kind of interesting hearing the male take on it, kind of like Tori Amos' cover of the Eminem song in reverse.

Anyway, I had a double gin and tonic -- emphasis on the gin -- and Chelle and I watched a sleazy old guy with gold chains hook it up with a skinny blonde with a big, fake ponytail. As a cab driver told me today, "Money can't buy you love, but it sure can buy you sex." That was right after he told me about the Roth IRA he bought for his 4-year-old daughter. Viva.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Parliament/Flashlight -- It's Paul's fault.

I'll be out of town again for a couple of days for work. I will have Web access this time and will try to post, but don't hate me if I don't get to it. Blogging should be back in full force after this week.

Today's my momma's birthday, so if you have some Anne Murray handy, give it a spin for her.

Friday, November 15, 2002

India.Arie/"Good Man" -- She's based everything, so far, on Stevie Wonder. But that's not a bad place to start, and her voice is so warm and deep that the whole thing works. The biggest problem I have with India is that she's so goddamn happy all the time -- some conflict would let her really use that alto for good or evil. But she'll get there, and meantime, she still kicks Alicia Keys' ass in my book.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Stephen Malkmus/"Trojan Curfew" -- Disclaimer: I don't know how the Pavement faithful feel about the Malkmus solo album. There is probably a consensus that has been reached that I don't know about. I own all the Pavement LPs, and nothing more. No EPs, no rarities, etc. So my opinion will not be the most informed on this matter. I tread lightly because I know there are some rabid Pavement people out there.

OK, good, that's out of the way. When I first heard Stephen Malkmus, I didn't think much of it. I don't know why. It just didn't seem to have that Pavement glee. It was too somber, too laid-back, too... old. But I plugged it in on a whim the other day, and for the first time, I heard a Great Album. Epic lyricism. Infectious melodies. Bizarre noises and bleeps to catch you off guard. Vocals that manage to sound laconic and fiery at the same time. And a great sense of humor.

"Trojan Curfew" is one of my favorites, with its idyllic description of the ancient world and its lazy summer-babe-day feel. It's like daydreaming in a college class in which you're studying Homer. I think Rolling Stone or one of the crappy magazines I still read called Stephen Malkmus "the sound of indie rock growing up," or something like that. I don't think so. I think that label applies to Brighten the Corners. Malkmus is the sound of indie rock feeling young again.

A quick aside: thanks for coming to visit while I was away. I like the little community we've created and hope it continues to grow. And as an Army brat, it's my duty to report that some of us take pride in that word.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Sonic Youth/"Dirty Boots" -- The video had, like, a teen love story in it, so I always think of this song as very sweet and charming. The pretty guitar hook doesn't hurt either.

I'll be leaving you Waking Ear-less for a couple of days as I'll be traveling and unable to post. Be back soon. Sorry for the lack of posts last week -- I was sick.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

The Dismemberment Plan/"Ellen and Ben" -- Does this song remind anyone else of Evan Dando? The witty humor, the wild-eyed kid perspective, the little hint of R&B. I missed seeing these guys live a couple of weeks ago, and I'm regretting it.

I was reading Travis Morrison's hilarious "Musical Works I Like" column yesterday, and I loved the fact that he took pride in liking Vanessa Williams' "Save the Best for Last." Not a guilty pleasure, he says, just a pleasure. He doesn't feel guilty about it.

So in the spirit of Mr. Morrison, I'm coming out today. I'm taking pride in a dark, hidden secret of mine -- I love the Debbie Gibson song "Only In My Dreams." Dreamy teen pop, kind of Wall of Sound-ish, with a slightly Latin-flavored beat. Can I get a witness?

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Guided By Voices/"Teenage FBI" -- Damn that Ric Ocasek. This could've been another good pop song for Robert Pollard, but it's an overproduced wash by the time Ric gets done with it. I heard it live last year, just Pollard and his guitar and drums and bass without all the little knob twists thrown in, and it's a Guided By Voices song again, the way it should be.

That said, I totally lost interest in GBV's latest, Universal Truths and Cycles, after about two listens. Nothing stood out to me; it seemed to be just Pollard's standard bag of tricks. I owe it to the guy to revisit the album, but I'm just not up for it right now.

Does anybody else feel that kind of brand loyalty? Owing a band another listen because they've been good to you in the past? Buying a record you could download just because the band played one of your favorite songs from 1998? Buying a record you don't even like for the same reason, hoping it'll grow on you? I've done all these things.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Tori Amos/"pancake" -- Scarlet's Walk fucking rules. A great mix of accessible Tori and bizarro Tori. Wish I had time to write more.

Oh, here's the song I mentioned Friday.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Chocolate Genius/"My Mom" -- I picked up Black Music on the advice of a middle-aged white guy I know through my job. It sat in my car for a couple of months without being heard, but this morning I plugged it in for the first time. Sometimes it's nice to kind of let a record sit for a little bit, let it simmer. Then you discover it, like it was something in the attic left behind for you. It's a lot different feeling from buying the album, unwrapping the plastic and ripping off that infernal anti-theft sticker, and hastily putting it into your CD player. The pressure is off.

That said, I've found the first half of this CD to be uneven and, at times, a little slow and dull. But "My Mom" is gut-wrenching, a dark, moving ballad about losing a loved one to dementia. It's done just right -- melancholy without being maudlin, sweet without being saccharine. I'll try to make it available here over the weekend if you can't find it through your own devices.


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