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?

Monday, March 31, 2003

White Stripes/"The Hardest Button to Button" -- I put Elephant away for a little while until Schmubb pulled it out in the car yesterday. Still sounds good and fresh, with howling guitar solos and stomping blues jams. I have so much respect for artists that can work under this kind of pressure.

Friday, March 28, 2003

Frank Black/"Robert Onion" -- One of his best post-Pixies anthems.

I woke up drunk this morning. Whew. Have a good weekend.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Julieta Venegas/"Fe" -- I picked up Venegas' Bueninvento and Cafe Tacuba's Avalancha de Exitos on my trip to Mexico. But I haven't even gotten to Tacuba yet because the Venegas album is so good. It's poppy, forceful rock with some nice, subtle touches of accordion and keyboards. And she has a great voice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Nirvana/"Come As You Are" -- My least favorite Nirvana song. It's the only one where Kurt sounds like he's trying to be menacing, instead of being wounded. He often sounded angry and threatened, but this just doesn't feel right. The Unplugged version is a little more resigned and works better, partly because the bass is toned down, too.

Don't know why Nirvana's been on the brain so much. Haven't listened to a Nirvana record in a while. Maybe it's just flashbacks from the whole Gulf War thing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Elliott Smith/"Waltz #2" -- I woke up thinking, "You're no good, you're no good, you're no good." That's really disturbing.

Smith is one of the only musicians whose lyrics I really pay attention to. Tori Amos might be another one, sometimes. But Elliott Smith has an advantage, one that keeps me listening -- he articulates clearly. I can't discern lyrics for shit from some artists, but he always has proper diction. I think he overpronounces to make sure you hear what he's saying, actually.

Busy workday. I've been one-offing my posts for the last couple of weeks, not really having time to edit and say more intelligent things. Bear with me 'till things get easier.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Nirvana/"Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle" -- Specifically this line: "She'll come back as fire, to burn all the liars, and leave a blanket of ash on the ground." I think it had something to do with Michael Moore's Oscar speech last night.

Mexico City was great -- huge and confusing and noisy. The Girlfriend and I took a side trip to the smaller city of Puebla, which had a gorgeous cathedral and a town square perfect for people-watching. And anti-war signs everywhere, in both cities.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

"Cielito Lindo" -- Ay, ay, ay, ay, canta y no llores. A still-sniffling Phantroll is embarking on vacation to Mexico City tomorrow. Waking Ear will return on Monday, porque cantando se alegran, cielito lindo, los corazones.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Cat Power/"I Don't Blame You" -- I'm home sick today. Feel like crap. Chan Marshall rules.

Friday, March 14, 2003

Shanice/"I Love Your Smile" -- It's really flirty and high school-y, and then Shanice raps, and then Branford Marsalis on sax -- totally weird.

I'm going to see Calla at Good Records this afternoon, then Supergrass tonite! Good way to kick off the weekend. Y'all be safe out there.

Thursday, March 13, 2003

Hot Hot Heat/"No, Not Now" -- How long before this becomes a totally huge hit? Not long, my friends, because Warner Bros. is re-releasing Make Up the Breakdown.

Hot Hot Heat were fun in their Dallas show last night -- never thrilling, but pleasant. Goofy keyboardist Steve Bays ran laps around his keyboard and shook his ample hair.

But then co-headliner The Fire Theft came onstage and fucked shit up. The ex-Sunny Day Real Estate-ers are more grown-up and happy now, and it showed. Enigk fucking smiled, twice I think. The songs combined SDRE's orchestral quality with a more aggressive, harder tone. Nice stuff, looking forward to the album.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

REM/"I Don't Sleep, I Dream" -- I think Monster got a bad rap for the same reason Zooropa did -- it's hard to follow up masterpieces. But this one, like the best cuts on Zooropa, shouldn't be left behind -- an eerie, stalker-ish tune underscored with the buzz of an all-night neon light.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The Roots/"Sacrifice" -- Phrenology's greatest strength is that it doesn't let its guest stars and its cross-genre experimentations get in the way of the Roots' biggest assets. The live drumming and instrumentation on "Sacrifice" sounds genuine and fresh. How many hip-hop songs have done that pseudo-Calypso thing and managed to sound even one-tenth as cool as a guy playing a steel drum? Nelly Furtado doesn't do any of her dodgy-dodgy-dang-dang scat stuff, instead supplying her voice in light doses as a nice, subtle touch, just a little bit of brightly colored paint on the edge, for depth.

Monday, March 10, 2003

The Roots/"The Next Movement" -- It's like the neo-soul, intelligent hip-hop version of "Hot in Herre," bouncing and stuttering, looming darkly. The little opera voice in the background is just ridiculous. And that stuttering chorus makes it pop -- the "h-hot music, the hot mu-SIC." It sounds schizophrenic, like a guy in a bubble jacket on a street corner talking to himself, eyes darting.

Friday, March 07, 2003

Frank Black and the Catholics/"How You Went So Far" -- At last night's show, the Catholics started out like a (very good) Pixies tribute band. Before the curtains parted, we heard the familiar opening strains of "Where Is My Mind?" We couldn't fucking believe it. And then Frank launched into about seven or eight Pixies songs in a row.

But the night mostly belonged to Catholics material, and to lead guitarist Rich Gilbert, who used his teeth, a drumstick and one of the namesake columns in Trees to play his instrument. He wore a red suit. He's a god. Check the link above to learn more about this guy.

Oh, and Frank can still do the banshee scream whenever he wants.

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Hanson/"This Time Around" -- I have no idea where this came from. Fucking earworm!

Does anyone out there own Hanson's This Time Around? It was the one after the smash hit Middle of Nowhere. Unless you count the Christmas album. Actually, do any of you Waking Ear visitors own any of those? Because here's the thing -- based on the Hanson songs I have heard over the years, I'd guess that those albums would actually still be pretty good.

I mean, that "Where's the Love?" song sucked, and "MMMBop" got played out, but it's not like those kids were completely devoid of talent. I know they had help from the Dust Brothers, but I got the impression that they were at least writing more of their own shit than Avril does. (Kudos to the ol' Rolling Stone for checking Avril's "songwriting" story with the actual songwriters, but daggers to the mag for failing to bring up its scoop until near the end of the story.)

"Earworm" link via the all-knowing, all-seeing, apparently very busy TMFTML, btw.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Yo La Tengo/"Little Eyes" -- Summer Sun doesn't match the Hoboken gang's two previous major releases because it's too subtle.

With I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One and And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, Yo La Tengo applied its songwriting talent to the world of drone and shoegazing and whatever else you want to call slow, quiet music. The band knew that every moment makes a difference, inserting chimes and drum machine skitters in little spaces here and there and pausing when it was right to pause. The lyrics about autumn sweaters and such seemed just precious enough, but Ira Kaplan had a way of whispering one moment and sounding more confident and vocal the next.

He's reduced totally to a whisper now, joining Georgia Hubley in the stratosphere. And everything just seems a little too laid-back. Those little intimate moments, when just the right sound came at the right time, have become rarer. The band is still capable of producing a monster melody and rhythm, as it does on "Little Eyes," but songs suffer from random noise and meandering departures.

There are still interesting noises and instrumentation and other weird, wonderful stuff on this record. But the details matter, and Yo La Tengo seems to have not spent as much time on timing this time around.

Monday, March 03, 2003

Broken Social Scene/"Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl" -- The creepy vocals threw me off at first. They sound like the voice of the alien on that episode of Dukes of Hazzard where the Duke boys get that interplanetary visit. They call their alien friend "Lil' Cousin," and he garbles in a high-pitched voice that sounded like two voices talking in unison.

Anyway, the vocals sound like that. But by the end of the song, they're deeply affecting. They sound like girls singing in a nearly monotone chant. I can't make out much of the lyrics except for something about whitening teeth, but this is obviously a song about conformity and anxiety and all the things you feel when you're a teenager. It's sad and resigned and a little bit angry.


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KEXP DFW Concert Calendar

Kinja, the weblog guide

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