October 03, 2006

Music Map Across the Country: Day 1

For almost a year, this blog has given people a chance to read about bands they have or have not heard. It is to the best of my knowledge that you, the reader, have taken this blog as seriously as I have. I have given you my humble opinion on many different topics regarding music. Though all my reviews have been a joy to write, I can honestly say I enjoy making my lists the most. Not because I want to say one album is inferior to the other, nor am I trying to force my opinions on you. I just like to express my view in writing. This blog has given me a chance to get out all the things I can’t think of saying when I am in the car with you, trying to describe the magic the cd I just put in for you holds. It has made me grow and made me think more about almost any other topic I have ever had to think about in the past (sad, but true). And the best part is…I love it.

What I am about to write is more powerful than any list I have made. This list took over 40 straight hours worth of dedicated listening to construct. This isn’t even a list. It is a map. A map of my journey across the country. Many people dream of doing what I almost took for granted a month ago. With no passengers, no movies, no interruptions (other than traffic and rest stops) I drove from Ontario NY to Lynnwood WA. I thought long and hard about how I was going to operate my selection of music for this trip. I decided not to construct the list before I left. Rather I got in my car, acknowledged the mood I was currently in, and went from there. My plan was to adapt my listening selection to the scenery and frame of mind I was in at that very moment. I wanted my atmosphere to be determined by the album selection. I didn’t plan on listening to a single cd. I did a LOT of page flipping and a lot of swerving, but I found the album that was just right for my mood damn near every time.

With that said, I hope you benefit from my dorkish ways in some way. Maybe if you have a friend who lives 3000 miles away that you want to visit, this will help you out on your trip. But if I may make a suggestion, I suggest letting the music and the road make your pick for you. It makes for a much more stimulating journey. Enjoy!

Day 1:
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
It was raining, I was miserable, and Jeff Tweedy was the answer I was looking for. His amazing songwriting made for a great solemn, gratifying sing along to get my trip started.

Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head
Unfortunately I didn’t know all the words to Hotel Foxtrot and I was still cheerless over leaving my home. Luckily Chris Martin and I have a solid bond and I was able to sing my heart out.

The Boy Least Likely To – The Best Party Ever
A gift from a dear friend 10 hours before I left. I was there the day he bought it and first listened to it. He came up to me in the record store, money burning a hole in his pocket and said “This has a funny little cover.” To which I replied “I hear they’ve got a neat sound too.” 15 minutes later in the car I heard one of the greatest and most exact descriptions of an album I’ve ever heard. “It’s like Teletubbies…on crack.” Thanks Matty.

Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism
A Seattle band making quite a big wave in the pop scene. It’s moving, loud and emotional. Everything I was looking for. Plus it got me thinking about the amazing music scene I was about to be a part of which cheered me up a little bit.

Eels- Live from Town Hall
Mark Oliver Everett knows how to create one hell of a show. And seeing how it was the next page over from Death Cab, I figured what the hell. Great tunes make this album one of the easiest listening albums of my collection.

(Time for a sidenote: Keep in mind I am in the car by myself, so obviously there were times on this trip I didn’t give a shit what cd was going in next. So if you see a string of albums in alphabetical order, obviously I didn’t feel like flipping all over the place to find something.)

John Frusciante – Curtains
Still gloomy outside. I needed something a little more down but with a little more soul. Frusciante’s solo album ‘Curtains’ has that and more. I strongly recommend any and all of his solo work. (Sidenote: Frusciante is one of the smartest musicians I have ever known. He has a big label contract with a million dollar band (Red Hot Chilli Peppers), yet he is able to retain his personable strengths by keeping his solo stuff off the radar…pure genius)

Imogen Heap – Speak For yourself
Still dark and overcast, I needed something with a little more…umph. Her album was the perfect mix of electronics and keyboards I needed in a day full of males singing with guitars.

Gomez – How We Operate
An album I could listen to over and over again. My newest infatuation. Gomez’s new album has just the right pop sound to carry you from the gloom into the sunlight! Although it was already dark and Chicago was full of traffic…it still worked. I really enjoyed singing along with this one.

Killers – Hot Fuss
Pick me up music was in order after Gomez put the smile on my face even though the atrocious Chicago construction took it away. (Sidenote: Do NOT drive thru the city for at least another 2 years. Roads are torn up everywhere and there’s not a single sign pointing you in the right direction. You just pick a lane and pray to god it was the right one). Old favorites that I knew well and brought me safely to our campsite.

Day 2

Mason Jennings
Singer songwriter whose countryish sound felt perfect with the sun on my shoulders and the road ahead of me heading into Wisconsin. Nice & easy morning music. (Sidenote: For some odd reason I have had this cd and loved it for about 3 years and not, as of yet, checked out any of his other albums. I think I know none of his other work is going to match this wonderful album. Why chance letting myself down with his other work when I can just listen to his one outstanding album and think he is amazing?)

Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldier
This album was my savior. Just like every other cd I own, I had it for months before listening to it and loving every song. The sun was shining, the road was long, and I was able to sing along (I just signed my contract with Shady records). Jack White has truly become one of my favorite musicians.

Dave Matthews Band – Live at Saratoga 2006 (Saturday Night)
Wisconsin was boring as hell. What better way to occupy that time than by listening to the bootleg of the last show you went to with you friends? Everyone knows Dave Matthews is the perfect fit for a sunny day roadtrip. And a 3 disc concert that I was at fit into the rotation flawlessly.

Sufjan Stevens – Illinoise
It was still sunny and this felt right. If you want to know more look for it at the top of my Best of 2005 list.

Oasis – What’s the Story Morning Glory?
Minneapolis…Finally a city, civilization, people. After driving thru farm lands for 2 hours i turned the AC off and put my windows down for this one. (I took advantage of the traffic slowing me down. I was getting a headache from the AC but its hard to drive 85 MPH with the windows down)

Pixies – Doolittle
My new old favorite. A band I wish I had listened to when I first heard about them (not at their beginning obviously). I have no problem enjoying their music now though. This rockin 80’s/90’s band has one hell of an album in this classic that I now cherish wholeheartedly.

Rouge Wave – Descending Like Vultures
Rouge Wave is a recent chill band that hasn’t made a huge name for themselves yet. They opened for some band at High Falls in Rochester this summer but I didn’t know until the day of…drag. Excellent album though, check it out.

Velvet Underground – Loaded
Ahhhh, the classics. I almost went off on a 60’s/70’s rampage after this was over. I was gonna hit Zepplin, the Stones, the Kinks, the Who, all my older favorites. However North Dakota was miserable. It was late, dark, we were close to our campsite and I was practically falling asleep at the wheel so I needed a quick pick me up to last me to Bismark. Luckily I only had to flip one page to find it…

The White Stripes – Get behind Me Satan
Loud, Singable…just what I needed to keep me going. (It was that or No-Doze)

Day 3

Sufjan Stevens – Seven Swans
A Valentines Day present I received. It was quiet and interesting, 2 qualities that started my morning off right.

Jeff Buckley – Grace
I just recently bought his fabulous ‘Live at Sin-e’ double disc that I was hoping would completely envelop me in a blanket of Buckley on the trip. Alas, I loaned it to the one friend I knew never returns cds until I rummage through her room and stumble upon them. So I had to make due with this eternal favorite.

Wilco – Kicking In The Television Live in Chicago
I needed more Wilco, and I couldn’t decide which album I wanted to hear. So I went for the one with all the favorites and a whole lot more intensity. This one is also on my best of 2005 list.

(Sidenote: Around this time I start going a little crazy. I’m not talking to myself or anything, but North Dakota is really the most dismal state of the United. Not one hill, animal, tree, gas station, person, house…anything. Just a long road and a bunch of fields. Sad to say, I also got a little tired of listening to my music. This was the day some of you received a phone call from me. So if you notice this day doesn’t have as much music as the others its because I was on the phone a lot.)

Beastie Boys – The In Sound From Way Out
Why not. There was nothing else to do. May as well pretend I’m stoned and listen to some trippy shit.

White Mud Free Way – Last Years Trash
Great album. I listened to it in Serenity’s car cause I needed a break from driving for an hour or so. It was her pick and it was a great one at that

Ani Difranco – Dilate
An old favorite that didn’t really fill the car with the sound I was looking for. I think I listened the first 4 songs then took it out. Sorry Ani.

Bright Eyes – Lifted
Conor Oburst was the sound I was looking for. A nice sing along to get out my emotions on a beautiful sunny day going through the Rockies. It was kind of hard to sing along though cause my ears kept popping and I was constantly adjusting the volume. I still had an enjoyable time with this album.

Elliott Smith – From a Basement on the Hill
I keep telling myself No Elliott. I didn’t want to slip into the pool of emotional hell that I usually do when I listen to him on a 4 day road trip. But this album isn’t that bad. It was great to hear a familiar voice and I love every song on the mans last album. An eye opener every time you listen to it. XO

Snow Patrol – Final Straw
It was either the new album or the old favorite. And I was in no mood to dissect a new album. I was in need of a companion. This did the trick.

Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Twilight to Starlight
A masterpiece of an album that I haven’t listened to with this kind of intensity in ages. Every song that came on was like a lightning bolt of memory. I couldn’t believe I forgot about such a classic album. Truthfully the most appropriate album of the day. So perfect in fact, that the last song ended about 5 seconds after I put the car in park at our campsite (no joke). It was just what the doctor ordered. We got a cabin that night instead of setting up the tent. It was nice to sleep on an actual bed.

Day 4

Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness – Dawn to Dusk
Had to do it. After last nights orgasmic experience with the second disc, I had to start off my morning in the rocky mountains with the first disc. It was almost as perfect of timing as the second disc. Driving through all the valleys and mountains, I barely had my eyes on the road. Every tree and rock was just breathtaking to look at. Smashing Pumpkins delivered an out of this world experience on this trip. Knowing that the band is reuniting for a new album and hopefully a new tour just added to the enjoyment.

The Beta Band – The 3 EP’s
My throat needed a rest after all the singing. This also makes for a great morning album. I really got to sink my teeth into the scenery with this one too. I just let the music play and kept my eyes on the mountains.

Ben Harper – Fight for Your Mind
I don’t know why I hadn’t listened to him sooner, but at least I thought of it before the trip was over. A kick ass album that I haven’t listened to thoroughly since the day I bought it. A great addition to the rotation.

Beck – Odelay
Love this album. Beck has that funk to lift your spirits and keep you entertained. I choose this one because I haven’t listened to old Beck since ‘Guero’ came out last summer. Check out the song “Elevator Music” from his new album coming out soon. Amazing tune.

Neutral Milk Hotel – In an Aeroplane over the Sea
Perfect summertime music. Eastern Washington is as boring as North Dakota. A sing along album was considered necessary. This is an older indie album that is phenomenal when given a chance. Head bobbing from start to finish. Windows were down for this one.

I am Kloot
I don’t think I listened to this one the whole way through. I was getting antsy with all the “Seattle - 150 Miles” signs I was passing. So I skipped around and hit my favorites. Fortunately there were many.

Modest Mouse – Good News For People Who Love Bad News
Love this album. Seattle was closing in fast so I needed some happy tunes. (Sidenote: since there are mountains and trees everywhere on the drive we got like 5 miles from the city without even seeing it from the road. I was starting to question its existence in my mind.)

Now around this time I knew I wasn’t going to able to finish another whole cd, so a lot of careful thought went into this last one. I needed something with classic status. I wanted something to remind me why I am looking forward to this adventurous new city. I needed something that I haven’t listened to in so long that as soon as I put it in I would remember why there was love for it at one time and sing along as if it were the first time I heard it. Then it hit me, and before I could even question the selection that was swimming in my head, I just grabbed it and put it in. As soon as I did, I knew I made the right choice…

Nirvana – Nevermind
The reason you can see Seattle in bold letters on any world map. The band that single handedly took the Seattle music scene and commercialized it. It was perfect. And I sang every song. The album did exactly what I thought it would. It got me all excited about the music scene I was about to explore. There has to be so many interesting bands in this huge city. The radio stations alone rock. KEXP blows WBER out of the water. (Sidenote – It is 90.3 KEXP. You can listen live on the web. Check out John in the Morning. I don’t even listen to cds in my car in the morning because his show is so good. You can listen online at the website, on itunes, get a podcast, or if you’re not that up-to-date, check out the blog or read his setlist every morning.) Back to Nirvana. An appropriate ending to a magical trip.

Hope you enjoyed the list. Now that I have access to the internet I will be posting new albums just like I used to. So keep coming back. I already have more to share. Peace NY