36 hours but my mind is fresh

Whenever you hear that a musician has had something tragic happen in their life (death of a family member, divorce, botched plastic surgery) you know their next album isn't going to be a barrel of laughs. So, I wasn't hoping for much when I heard that David Gray's new album at the time, A New Day At Midnight, focused on the death of his father. Mix that with the pressure of churning out a follow up to White Ladder and I was poster girl for low expectations.

Mr. Amazon says A New Day At Midnight was released November 5, 2002. I bought it pretty shortly after it came out and stumbled upon a happy coincidence. I, too, was not in the mood for a happy album.

Those of us who were working at a certain newspaper at a certain place can remember that fall and winter of 2002. They were bleak days and the consoling tones of Mr. Gray were just what I needed. He got heavy rotation in my car for several months.

Perhaps the saving grace of the album is that it is not entirely sad. An upbeat song like "Caroline" and the sweet love song "Be Mine" kept me from just driving off a steep hill. David Gray could see the light in bad times and so could I.

Favorite Song of the Week:
"Take It Easy (Love Nothing)" by Bright Eyes - Unless he's changed it, this is Josh's ring tone when I call his cell phone. I really can't say much about it except that it's a great song. I would like to know if that thing in the background that sounds like a bag of change rattling really is a bag of change. If any of you guys are close friends of Conor Oberst, please pass along my question.


Remember my dear, they only want one thing. Maybe they want it more than once, but it's still only one thing.

I think every musician hopes to make timeless music. Sure, most pop music carries some of the hallmarks of the time in which it was made, but the best music doesn't get weighed down by a particular sound.

So what has struck me most about the soundtrack to the 1997 film A Life Less Ordinary is how much it sounds like a little time capsule of the late 90's. It's full of bands that were all the rage at the time, never to be heard from again. Remember Ash? How about Luscious Jackson or The Cardigans? The whole thing sounds like the height of hipness - for 1997.

A Life Less Ordinary is also my least favorite Danny Boyle movie. Ewan McGregor is its only saving grace. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Ewan is singing to himself as he gathers wood. The song he's singing ("Round Are Way" by Oasis) isn't even on the soundtrack. I had to dig it up at a record store in London instead.

So if you want to feel like it's 1997 all over again, this is great listening. To me it was more of a sociological experience than a musical one.

I could totally rock the Olympics

Friday was a really cool day. I actually spent most of the daylight hours bumming around my apartment and moaning about the Run Like Hell. I was trying to think of reasons I shouldn't go, excuses I could tell people, etc. Finally, around 6 p.m. I decided I didn't really have any excuses and headed out.

Once I got there, though, I knew it was going to be really fun. People were dressed up and having fun. The weather was beautiful and suddenly 5 kilometers didn't sound so far. I'm not very good at figuring crowd sizes but there were at least several hundred people. Big fun.

The race itself wasn't bad. Jeff warned me about getting caught up in the raceness of it all and going out too fast, so I made a point of sticking to my so very slow pace. Some girl wearing a refrigerator box passed me, but I didn't let it get me down.

There was another girl wearing a hoop skirt and a corset and that was the last straw. We were running at about the same pace but I really didn't want her to get too far in front of me. There was no way I was going to let a girl in a hoop skirt beat me.

The part of the race that went through the cemetery was really cool. They had the trail lined with flashlights and you see the gravestones backlit by the setting sun. It would have been even cooler if there hadn't been a giant hill in the middle of the place. I did resort to walking up the steepest part of this hill but it was only about 30 seconds. I'm pretty proud of myself for not stopping any more than that.

The end of the race was really fun. It seemed to go by quickly and there was a big party at the end. I finished in 42 minutes, far from fast but, most importantly, the exact same time as hoop skirt girl.

Later that night, my friends Mike and Anne Elisabeth were hosting Prombie 2: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It's their annual prom for zombies, so I slathered on the zombie makeup and headed over. The highlight of the evening was meeting (and thereby verifying the actual existence of) Kelly's boyfriend (who is coincidentally named Edmund). Yes, Jeff, he does seem to be real. I also got meet Mike's cat, Stella, who looks like Tippy but without the tip. Throw in some chocolate fondue and it makes for a pretty good time.

Wanna see some Prombie pictures? Go here.

Finally, we won our third football game of the season today. It took a penalty on the other team and a fourth down deflection by yours truly but it was a win and I'll take it.

So back to the albums tomorrow. If I don't start listening again, I'll never get to Achtung Baby and Jeff has been waiting on pins and needles for that day to roll around.


But this is just another case of female stopping play in an otherwise total result of a holiday

Mike Skinner and I have a lot in common. Our cell phones get terrible reception. Sometimes
we find out we don't have money when we go to the ATM. Little errands like returning DVD's can really screw up our day.

There are two big things that separate us, though, (1) I've never lost $1,000 inside a television set and (2) if I had, I wouldn't have written a concept album about it.

But I'm glad Mike did.

Mike Skinner is better known as The Streets and his album A Grand Don't Come For Free is today's selection from Declan. It was released May 18, 2004 and was one of my favorite albums of the year. An album all about mundane stresses and roller coaster relationships.

It's really hard to describe what The Streets sound like. To call it British rap doesn't really do it justice. You should just go to their web site and check it out. The whole thing sounds fairly comical at first but Mike Skinner's heart is right there under the surface and you can hear it.

Of course, to truly understand The Streets it helps if you speak English. No, not that English they speak in America, the crazy slangy English they speak in Britain. Luckily I'm bilingual so I know what he's talking about when he uses words like:
It's a good skill to have whether you use it for The Streets albums or Harry Potter books.

Listening to A Grand Don't Come For Free is like taking a little journey through Mike Skinner's life. There's lots of partying and fighting and other unwholesome activities but it's a pretty fun trip.

H-E-double hockey sticks

I've been promising Jeff for ages that I will one day run a 5k. Well, that day it seems is tomorrow. There's a race called the Run Like Hell which goes through Walnut Hills Cemetery tomorrow night. Very spooky! Also, there's a party afterwards so it met all my basic criteria.

I sprained my ankle last week, though, so I haven't been able to get as much running in as I would have liked. I'm pretty confident I can go two miles but that third one might be a killer. It also looks like there's a hill at the end. So for me it might be the run like Hell for two miles then the endless walk up the big hill at the end. We'll see.

If this thing goes reasonably well, I'm hoping to doing a Thanksgiving 5k up in Milwaukee. Because nothing says welcome to the holidays like dragging your butt through the freezing cold streets of Mequon before eating some turkey.


The best life never leaves your lungs

I was pretty excited to listen to A Ghost is Born by Wilco. I'm a big Wilco fan and I have been for a very long time. When I was a senior in high school I lived in Michigan but I was heading off to college in Missouri. A few weeks before I left for school, Rolling Stone listed the ten most popular albums at Slackers Records in Columbia, Missouri. Perched at number one was A.M. by Wilco, a band I'd never heard of. So in an effort to get to know my new town, I went out and bought A.M. I've never looked back.

Maybe when I get to A.M. on Declan, I'll tell you about the time I accidentally walked in on Jeff Tweedy in the men's room. Oh, the memories.

Anyway, in order to like A Ghost is Born, you must like feedback. I mean really like it. My first reaction to this album (and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot) was pure disgust. I really had to spend some time with it before I started to like it. Now, it's probably my second favorite Wilco album so I guess all that time paid off.

That said, I don't think I'll ever like "Less Than You Think." The little song part at the beginning is sweet and haunting, but the seven minutes of feedback at the end is more than anybody should be asked to suffer through. What do they think this is? 1968?

I am worried that Wilco is at risk of going completely off the deep end. There's a fine line between pushing the envelope and being unlistenable (Radiohead has been on both sides over the years) and for now Wilco is on the right side of it. I hope they stay there.


Maybe I feel like I've been gathering dust

If you've been paying close attention (as I'm sure all of you are) you'll have noticed that I've finally progressed past the album titles that begin with numbers. But with that shift begins my annoyance with Apple's method of alphabetizing.

I'm surrounded by a fairly large number of copy editor or English major types and more than one has questioned me about the way albums are listed on Declan. "How can 7 come after 69 Love Songs?" asked Jeff. The answer is Declan has a short attention span and he only looks at the first (and only first) letter or number. So now that I've made it past the numbers, I have a whole list of albums that begin with the word "A" to get through. That is so wrong.

Apple, pissing off copy editors everywhere.

So using this novel method of alphabetization, next on my list is A Century Ends by David Gray. This was actually Gray's first album (released in England in 1993) but it didn't see a U.S. release until 2001. Fresh off the success of White Ladder, everybody was looking to cash in on Gray's new popularity and suddenly every label he'd ever recorded for had a new compilation or old reissue.

I was quick to hop on that bandwagon and I picked up many of these aforementioned reissues and compilations. I enjoy each of them to varying degrees with Flesh probably being my favorite. It has all the unabashed sincerity of A Century Ends with just a little more catchiness to the music. Did you get that?

Now, there is a small group of diehard fans out there who will swear that Gray has never recorded anything better than "Shine" and "Birds Without Wings" (both on this album) but I just don't see it. They have nice lyrics but if you can't match that with a good melody you should probably just be a poet.

Luckily, Gray did get better at the whole melody thing and he has White Ladder to show for it. A Century Ends is probably best kept to the hardcore fan.


We get older every year

Oh, Teenage Fanclub. I really want to like you. I really do. It's just you didn't make a good first impression. A Catholic Education just feels a little pretentious, and not in a sneering, angry way like Oasis. I just get the feeling that you think your emotions are more important than mine.

And then you had to go and throw in, not one, but two plodding instrumental tracks. Seriously?

You're sad. You're British. You're everything I look for in a band. I'm just not sure it's going to work out. You say you want another chance? Well o.k., let me listen to Bandwagonesque and I'll get back to you.


All my daydreams are disasters

Truffles are tasty. They're excellent sprinkled over a dish in thin slices. One thing I don't think I'd like, though, is just to sit down and eat a whole truffle. It just sounds too rich. After awhile you wouldn't really appreciate it anyway.

That's the way I feel about Uncle Tupelo. Each of their songs is like a delicate little truffle slice to be sprinkled among my iPod listening. Taken in one giant bite like I did today, however, and they begin to lose their flavor.

Uncle Tupelo are probably given more credit than they deserve. Through the years they've been built up into this mythical powerhouse. Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar have been turned into the Lennon/McCartney of Belleville, Illinois. I think both guys have done better work with their subsequent bands (Wilco and Son Volt). What stands out about Uncle Tupelo is how young these guys sound.

So 89/93: An Anthology sounds more like history. You can hear Jeff Tweedy find his style and his voice and you can feel Jay Farrar's swagger through the headphones. There are several fine songs here but few masterpieces. "Screen Door" and "I Got Drunk" (with the catchy chorus of "I got drunk and I fell down") are a couple of my favorites.

But after awhile all the alt countryness of gets to me. Nothing sounds new and I start to think maybe I've taken too big a bite of that truffle. I think I'll stick to listening to Uncle Tupelo in sprinkles.

Favorite Song of the Week:
"If She Wants Me" by Belle & Sebastian - I'm always of two minds when it comes to Belle & Sebastian. Most of their songs sound just a little too twee for me. But then on every album I find a song or two that I can't get out of my head. "If She Wants Me" is from Dear Catastrophe Waitress and it's a slightly funky tune filled with hopeful lyrics like "If I could do just one near perfect thing I'd be happy."


I think you left me for the government

I have to say I wasn't too enthused about listening to the next album on Declan. I wondered why I even had 7even Year Itch: Collective Soul Greatest Hits 1994-2001 on my iPod.

But then I listened to it again.

Sure it's 13 tracks of pop rock drivel, but it's catchy. I always enjoyed hearing Collective Soul on the radio and this CD is a nice collection of all your radio favorites. It's good driving music and I used to do a lot of that when I lived in California.

There's one song I really can't stand, though. "Shine" was overplayed on the radio and it's really just a hideous song with all those crazy "yeahs" thrown in. The first time I heard it, I thought it was a commercial jingle making fun of something. If only that were true.

But "Run" and "Gel" and "December" and all those other one word songs are good fun. I'm no Soulie but I can live with this being on my iPod.

You need a montage

Hey, remember way back in August when Josh started his blog? It was pretty sweet. Then in September he started posting a new photo of himself every day. I was an avid collector of this great art, but soon things trickled off. I've taken it upon myself to present this art in the way it was mean to be seen. I don't care if the project's not done, because I don't think it ever will be.

So I give you ten pictures of Josh. I think I missed a couple but this is what I have. Please enjoy and take a moment to contemplate the transient nature of life along with the befuddled faces of Josh.

As for my own project, there will be no album today because I am lazy. I promise there will be one tomorrow, though, because that's how I roll.


Short and sweet

I don't have much time tonight, so it's good that I drew a short album. Well, I wouldn't consider a full album, just a long EP. In fact, the title is actually the number of tracks. It's called 7 and it's by a little band called U2.

7 was one of those special promotional CD's Target releases to get you to come to their store. It worked. I don't remember it costing very much and it's actually a really nice collection of acoustic versions and dance remixes of songs from All That You Can't Leave Behind (but that's another day). I particularly enjoy the remix of "Elevation" (a tune I never liked much before) and Bono's ode to his pregnant wife "Big Girls Are Best."

I'm not going to wax poetic about U2 and their contributions to the worlds of music and politics. I'll leave that for other people. Let me just say that should you run across a copy of this album somewhere, it would be worth your while to pick it up.

The "T" is silent

I've been thinking of things to do in New York and I've always wanted to go to a taping of The Daily Show. The problem is so does everyone else.

But Monday was the premiere of their new spinoff The Colbert Report and it seemed pretty entertaining, so I asked for tickets to that. I guess they don't have that big fan base yet because they've already replied with my ticket confirmation. I love Stephen Colbert but it feels a little like I couldn't get Yankees tickets so I went to see the Long Island Ducks play instead.


Now I'm crazy for you, but not that crazy

I've really enjoyed the last couple days. I've been immersed in 69 Love Songs by The Magnetic Fields (per Declan's request) and it's a lot of fun. 69 Love Songs was released as a 3 CD set on September 7, 1999 but I don't remember hearing anything about it until Josh mentioned it sometime in 2003. I ignored him. Then, I learned they had the CD's at the library so I really only discovered this album a few months ago.

There are tons of great things about this collection, so I'll mention just a few. Overall, it does have a low-fi indie feel to it but everything sounds different enough to keep it interesting. It seems like just about every musical genre is represented. Some of the songs seem unfinished but I was most surprised by how good so many of the songs really are. It seems like there would have to be some sort of quantity versus quality tradeoff. I'd say only 10% of the songs are complete throwaways, though.

Finally, I'm impressed by the scope of love represented by the songs on the album. There are songs about one night stands, lust from afar, growing old together and the classic lost love. There are also a lot of songs about dancing which is really very sweet.

When it was all done, I felt like I had a little more insight on the human condition. Like I'd been on a journey and learned something along the way. What more could you want from an album?

Here are ten of my favorite songs from 69 Love Songs (in no particular order):
"Kiss Me Like You Mean It"
"Washington, D.C."
"I Think I Need A New Heart"
"Love Is Like A Bottle Of Gin"
"I'm Sorry I Love You"
"When My Boy Walks Down The Street"
"Fido, Your Leash Is Too Long"
"Nothing Matters When We're Dancing"
"Acoustic Guitar"


The Social Schedule - Keeping You at the Top of Your Game Since Early 2004

See that new link on the right over there that says, "Wanna Party?" It's our new social schedule. Yes, we've moved our old calendar style schedule to a new fluid and interactive blog.

See, a group of us go out on Thursday nights for drinks. We got tired of always going to the same place but I got tired of having people call me to find out where we were going. So, we came up with the idea of a web page that people could go to. Then, Carrie got tired to posting stuff to the web page all the time. So we're all pretty lazy.

Sarah is so lazy that she said she wouldn't be able to find the new schedule blog unless I put a link to it on my blog. Her wish is my command so now no one will have to work more than is minimally necessary to find a place to drink. Thank god for that.

So, I'm not posting about my album today because I want to get through all three volumes of this collection before I write about it. Hopefully, I'll be done tomorrow. What album could possibly span three volumes you ask? How about one with a bunch of songs. 69 to be exact.


1,440 minutes

While I was busy writing about how my friend Jeff reminded me to go to the Virgin Megastore, Jeff himself was off doing something much more impressive. Yesterday he ran the Columbus marathon and managed to get a time below 3 hours and 10 minutes which qualifies him for the Boston marathon. As I will be attempting to merely run a 5k later this month, this whole marathon thing is a little beyond my comprehension. All I can say is bravo, Jeff, bravo!


Declan's selection today is the soundtrack to 24 Hour Party People (it will be a minor victory when I get through all the album titles that begin with numbers). I rented the DVD of the movie awhile back and I found the soundtrack at the library earlier this year. I've had it in my iTunes for awhile now but I hadn't really listened to it all the way through until today.

First, let me say that I loved the movie and you should go out and get the DVD immediately. I was relatively unfamiliar with British new wave music in the late 70s and early 80s and this movie is a great way to get into the mood of the era. I am too young to have been listening to music back then but it isn't so far back to be considered proper "history." I think punk and new wave get overlooked too often anyway, so consider 24 Hour Party People an entertaining primer.

The soundtrack is mostly a mix of Joy Division and New Order songs with some Happy Mondays thrown in. Many of the songs were new to me with the exception of the excellent "Love Will Tear Us Apart" by Joy Division. I don't think I'm going to rush out and buy anything else by these guys but I'm glad I have this album. It nicely fills a gap in my musical education. All the little synthetic drums and mechanical beeps get to me after awhile but it's a good document of an era that is too often easily forgotten.

Favorite Song of the Week:
"Independent Woman" by Elbow - Here's what I know about Elbow. Carrie made a mix CD and she put their cover of this Destiny's Child song on it. It is awesome! As far as I can tell, the band has never officially released the song. You can find the mp3 here, though. Don't let the foreign language put you off (I think it might be Icelandic).


Like a virgin

I'm going to New York in a couple of weeks and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll get to see my friends Josh and Nancy as well as soak in all the cityness the Big Apple has to offer. The reason I'm really going, though, it to see my friend Andrew's play. I haven't seen Andrew for years but he's always been a theater guy. So it's exciting to think of him all grown up and directing a play. If you live in New York or will happen to be there in late October or early November you should go see his play. You can find more info here.

Whenever I tell people I'm going to New York, they're always quick to offer suggestions. Museums to visit, restaurants to eat at, things you just can't miss. I try to keep a small list in my head so I always have something to do when I'm there. I've been to NYC a couple of times now so I feel like I've hit all the big stuff. That was until Jeff reminded of something I can't believe I missed.

When your a fan of British music, there is no greater place on this planet than a Virgin Megastore. I was spoiled when I lived in California. There was one in Sacramento and a great meagstore on Union Square in San Francisco. Now, though, I'm hundreds of miles from the closest one. I think the Virign Megastore in Columbus closed so that leaves Chicago.

But Jeff reminded me that New York is home to not one, but two Virgin Megastores. I know it's no Empire State Building but it's definitely a big attraction for me. So during my trip to NYC, I'll make sure to head to the megastore and see what I can find.

All this brings me to today's album. It's an import called the 2000 Technic's Mercury Prize Sampler and I picked it up at a Virgin Megastore in Chicago a few years ago.

I've told you all about the Mercury Prize before. 2000 was the first year Coldplay made the list of finalists but it wouldn't be the last. Badly Drawn Boy ended up winning for his great album Hour of Bewilderbeast. This sampler CD has songs from all the nominated albums and it really opened my eyes to a lot of great new British music.

The one group it didn't open my eyes to, though, was Coldplay. Their song on the sampler was "Spies" which is o.k. but far from my favorite song. It would take a few months before I decided to pick up their album (at a Virgin Megastore, of course).

I did get very excited about Badly Drawn Boy after listening to the sampler. The album included "The Shining" which is arguably his best song ever. While the rest of Hour of Bewilderbeast doesn't really sound similar, I was still really happy I got it. I've been a Badly Drawn Boy fan ever since.

I never bought anything by the Delgados but I did like their song "American Trilogy." The sampler also featured "Song for the Lovers" by Richard Ashcroft which I was pretty sure was the only song I wanted off his album anyway. So looking back, I guess it was worth paying the extra money that an import album costs to get caught up on all my British music needs.


I knew a girl extraordinary, suggested something unsanitary

We won our flag football game today! Our second win of the season. I think that's a new regular season record for us. We're unstoppable!

So between all that playing football and watching football (Notre Dame was robbed), I managed to listen to 1965 by the Afghan Whigs. Josh was going to sell this CD at a garage sale but I talked him into giving it to me instead. I'm glad I did because it's my favorite Whigs album and I still listen to it quite a bit.

If you live in Cincinnati, the Afghan Whigs loom large over the music scene. But when you consider that other popular bands from Cincinnati include 98 Degrees, Bessid Union of Souls and the Ass Ponys, you can see why. It's often mentioned that the Whigs were the first band signed to Sub Pop records who weren't from the Pacific Northwest. That must mean The 'Nati is just as cool as Seattle, right?

1965 was released on October 27, 1998 and was the Whigs' last album. It's a great swan song. It has just enough of that fucked up Greg Dulli sexiness to remind you who they are, but it seems like less of a one trick pony than their earlier work. We get it Greg, you have trouble with women, now get to rockin'.

I really think you could release 1965 today and it would do well. It would at least be an indie hit. The Afghan Whigs would be the next Arcade Fire.


Singled out

This whole listening to albums thing has gotten me thinking about the general status of the album as art form. Many of us music freaks decry the current state of pop music. "What happened to albums?" we say. Everybody just wants the new single on the radio from iTunes. "It's killing music," we say.

But lets take a step back. The concept of an album as a cohesive representation of an artist's musical vision didn't really appear until the mid 1960s. Early Beatles albums were nothing but a few singles held together but several filler songs. There was no overarching musical theme, they just wanted your money.

So maybe the single is pop music's natural state. Maybe albums were just a fad. Sure there are indie rock bands out there still putting out great collections of tunes but they're in the minority. I guess time will tell, but it's probably wrong to bitch about a single driven musical world when it is has actually the norm through the years.

All that leads me to today's album. A collection of catchy singles held together by a wretched set of filler songs. Yes, I'm speaking of 14:59 by Sugar Ray. I can't tell you how it happened but I actually own two Sugar Ray albums (the second of which, gratefully, is not on Declan). Back before I was able to avoid the Cumbawumba Factor, I fell for "Fly." Don't ask me why. It was summer and it needed a song.

Anyway, "Fly" sounded nothing like the rest of the album. Sugar Ray was really a bad punk band in disguise. After the success of the single, though, they realized they could make more money selling out. So bring on 14:59.

Released on January 12, 1999, 14:59 is full of stuff that tries to sound like "Fly." I'm sure you remember "Every Morning" and "Someday." They were also bold enough to include a cover of Steve Miller's "Abracadabra." As far as pop singles go, they're not bad.

What is bad is everything in between. Crappy song after crappy song is shoved into the spaces between the singles to give us enough for a whole album. By the time it's all over, it's even hard to remember the good stuff.

So maybe it is right to decry the decline of the album. Maybe we should demand more for our money. Then again, if this album had been released a few years later, I probably just would have spent a couple bucks on iTunes for the songs I wanted.


Sad and Scottish

The Scottish band Travis has always been one of my basic sad and British building blocks. They really embody everything I love about melancholy Britpop. They're full of heartbreak tinged with anger and they look really cute with their bad haircuts and ill fitting clothes.

I remember picking up Declan's selection for the day, 12 Memories, at the Best Buy in Florence. Travis is one of those bands whose new album I'll just automatically buy. It's too bad then that I was underwhelmed by this album.

Mr. Amazon says 12 Memories was released October 14, 2003. Almost exactly two years ago today (Mr. Amazon also says this album is very popular at Minnesota Universities, hmmm...). This is their most recent album and by far their most political. They were very angry at George Bush and thought maybe a couple protest songs by wispy Scottish boys would change the world.

Mostly, though, it just made me angry. Hey, I agree with the guys, but bands really should stick to what they do best. Being angry at W. is not what Travis does best.

That said, I liked 12 Memories a lot more today than I ever remember liking it. It's still not their best work but I did put "Happy to Hang Around' on a mix CD. Maybe I don't notice the George Bush anger now that it seems to be everywhere.


The movement you need is on your shoulder

Declan says I have to listen to The Beatles today. Oh, darn. Their altogether new collection of hits, 1, is next on the list. Now 1 is an interesting piece of marketing. Mr. Amazon says it was released on November 14, 2000. If you'll think back to that time, you may recall that Elvis was having quite a bit of success with repackaged hits collections back then as well. The Beatles were not about to be left off that nostalgia train so they brought us 1.

The hook for 1 was supposed to be that all the songs were number one hits. While that technically is true, they never say in what country the songs were number one. Since everything The Beatles looked at went to number one in the U.K. the answer to almost every question is England.

So that pretty much opens up their entire catalog for this album. I actually appreciate that, because it's the minor hits that provide most of the enjoyment for this collection. Sure, "Can't Buy Me Love" is fine but songs like "Paperback Writer", "We Can Work It Out" and the almost obscure "Ballad of John and Yoko" helps keep 1 from just being a collection of songs you might hear on oldies radio.

Was it all necessary? I'm not sure. 1 did sell tons of copies, though. I decided it was worth it when Rolling Stone proclaimed them the world's hottest band in a 2001 cover. Yeah, 2001.


Perhaps they overestimated

Declan's next album is the ambitiously titled 001 by Dovetail Joint. Were they planning on numbering all their albums and did they think they'd actually make it into triple digits? The world may never know. A perusal of their web site shows that aside from an EP released in 2002 this was the second and last album they've recorded.

Mr. Amazon says 001 was released on January 26, 1999. I can tell you that this was one CD I didn't rush out to buy. They had a minor radio hit with "Level on the Inside" and I think it wore me down enough to actually get the whole album. I think it might have been something I got when I joined a record club.

Anyway, this album has never registered much with me and it still hasn't. It has the glossy guitars that were so popular in post grunge rock. The kind of gloss that just slides right over you. It's not a terrible album, it's just kind of white bread. If they had the support of their label maybe Dovetail Joint coulda been a contender. It looks like that didn't happen, though.


Face the music

I get all my great ideas in the shower. There's the soothing warm water, a nice layer of white noise and no distractions. It's a great place for thinking.

Today I had another of my great shower ideas. I've been lugging around my iPod (we'll call him Declan) for a few months now. I love having 90% of the music I own at my fingertips at all times, but, honestly, I keep listening to the same few playlists and albums. It's time to delve back into forgotten territory.

So here's the plan. For the foreseeable future I'm going to listen to all the albums on Declan. I'll face the good, the bad and the ugly of all the musical choices I've made for the last 15 years and I'll document it all here. Want to know how many terrible albums I own? Watch this space.

I've settled on a few basic ground rules for this experiment:
1. I'm listening to albums in alphabetical order by album title. I briefly considered going by artist but that would make for long stretches of Elvis Costello and R.E.M. and I'm not sure even I could stand that.
2. Partial albums are totally optional. If you buy one song by an artist on iTunes, it lists the album the song is from on your iPod. I'll probably listen to the song but I won't always comment on it. That's too much work.
3. I'm going to attempt to listen to one album a day. Like Josh, I reserve to right to be lazy once in awhile but I really want to keep up a certain pace. The time and place where I listen each day will constantly change but that's what makes it fun.

So let's get started, shall we? By virtue of beginning with a parentheses, the first album on my iPod list is (What's The Story) Morning Glory? by Oasis. A perfect start for a girl with a deep love of Britpop!

According to Mr. Amazon, Morning Glory was released October 3, 1995 and I can tell you I remember hopping on my bike my freshman year in college and buying this album the day it came out. (I also remember rushing back to my dorm to catch the O.J. Simpson verdict because that also happened on October 3, 1995.) I had just started college and this album was pretty much the soundtrack to that first year.

Of course everyone remembers "Wonderwall." It got radio overkill all winter so now I can hardly stand to listen to it. (At least the Oasis version. The Ryan Adams cover is another story.) I really loved "Some Might Say" and "Champagne Supernova" and the latter still reminds me of those Friday nights in the dorms when it seemed everyone was doing something awesome except me.

Relistening to Morning Glory has been a real treat and an interesting trip down memory lane. It really holds up for me, but Oasis is one of those camps where you're either totally in or totally out. I'm in.


It's a fine line

I got the new Paul McCartney album today. It's called Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard and I'm finding the whole thing as mysterious as the title.

I was ready to give up on McCartney. He started dying his hair to an unnaturally dark color and I really think his voice isn't what it used to be. A string of boring albums didn't help either.

No, despite what Rolling Stone tells you, Chaos and Creation isn't a masterpiece. It's just an o.k. album, but for McCartney that's a giant step. It's also a testament to the importance of a good producer. Just as bad production can bury a good album (see Coldplay's X&Y) a good producer can make sure the best parts of a mediocre album shine brightest. That's what Nigel Godrich has done for Paul McCartney.

Godrich does his best to bring out the strong melodies that McCartney fans know and love while keeping the sappiness to a minimum. He does it well enough that when the album's over you're mostly left with good memories. I could do without the boring instrumental "hidden track" but maybe it has some sort of special brainwashing power because I really think I liked this album. It's definitely something I might listen to again out more than just a sense of duty.

Favorite Song of the Week:
"The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - The Clap Your Hands album was on constant rotation in my car this week. I must have listened to it ten times in a row and each time I discovered something new. This song has a shout out to West Virginia which is something you learn to admire in this part of the country.


Straight up

I got my hair cut on Friday. For those of you who don't know, it was nothing drastic. I'm in the process of growing my hair out and I just needed the ends trimmed a bit (plus the back so it didn't look too mulletty).

Friday was kind of misty, though, and my hair is curly so my stylist (Is that what they're called these days? I usually call her "my hair cut chick.") suggested using a flat iron to keep my hair straight. I was up for that.

So for a few hours yesterday I had fabulously straight hair. Sure, people come up to me all the time saying they wish they had curly hair like mine, but if you actually have curly hair, all you want is straight hair that never does crazy shit or gets frizzy. On Friday I lived the dream.

I guess I could buy a flat iron and give myself straight hair whenever I wanted but that's not going to happen. I'm too lazy. Plus, while the straight hair was a nice change of pace, it was just so . . . straight. I'm learning to embrace my curls and love my crazy hair.

So here's a photo of me on Friday. I went jogging later so the straightness was gone a few short hours. I'm not sure the picture does it justice but you get the idea.

I'm also throwing in a photo of the flag football team I play on. We lost (again) today but I really like the picture. It's one of those "we are young, we are perfect" moments.


Against all odds

I was planning to write a big post today because I know I've been a little lax about such things lately.

But then I stumbled upon Josh's movie quiz.

Things are not going to get done for awhile. I hope Tippy is cool with feeding himself. I only have a few movies left but they're driving me crazy. Some are so familiar that I know I've seen the movie and others don't ring a bell at all. I'm not sure how I'm going to figure those out. It could be a long night.


You have dishonored Chairman Mao!

My mom ordered an iPod Nano for my dad's birthday. I'm in charge of tracking the order (because I love the FedEx web page) and I'm happy to announce that said Nano has been shipped from Shenzhen, China.

I'm unhappy to announce, however, that dad's iPod seems to be having trouble with customs.

The FedEx site says "regulatory agency clearance delay" and, yeah, I don't know what that means either. I like to imagine that some Red Army hardass is giving a poor FedEx courier a full cavity search right now.

Don't worry little Nano! Soon you will be in America, land of endless freedom and extremely small electronics.


What are you looking at?

We're well into the new fall television season and my TiVo is very happy. After a lonely summer filled with emptiness, Trevor (that's my TiVo's name) is now soaking up all the new shows and old favorites. If you are without the wonder of TiVo, don't fret. I have taken it upon myself to watch some television and tell you what you should be watching. (In case you really care, all times listed are eastern.)

1. Lost ABC Wednesday 9 p.m. - Seriously, are you not watching Lost yet? The second season just started and looks pretty good so far. I don't think it will delve into complete incomprehensibility for at least another season or so. Get on this train while you can.

2. Kitchen Confidential Fox Monday 8:30 p.m. - This new show has everything I could possibly want. It was created by Darren Star of Sex in the City fame and features that cute guy from Alias. It's been pretty funny so far and it makes for a great hour of TV if you watch the show before it which is...

3. Arrested Development Fox Monday 8 p.m. - I like Curb Your Enthusiasm just fine but sometimes I feel like Larry David is too unhappy with the world. Arrested Development has everything I like about Curb Your Enthusiasm but without the rage. The characters are endlessly optimistic and that makes it even funnier. Sort of like SpongeBob SquarePants.

4. The Amazing Race CBS Tuesday 9 p.m. - It's been watered down with a "family edition" this season but The Amazing Race is still the best reality show on TV. Unlike other shows, decent people actually come out on top most of the time. Combine that with the cringe inducing humor of watching contestants behave like ugly Americans and you got some must see TV.

5. Extras HBO Sunday 10:30 p.m. - Don't have HBO? That's too bad because you're missing Ricky Gervais' new show. It feels a little like The Office but deals with people who work as movie extras. Rumor is Gervais is only planning two six-episode seasons (like he did with The Office) so enjoy it while it lasts.