Archive for February 7th, 2011

The Captain Discusses Modern Rock Covers Part Vier

16. Sick Of You – Cake

Finally, a new song by Cake! One of my favorite bands from the nineties has been almost non-existent over the past decade. After 2001’s solid album Comfort Eagle, the band managed to release one mediocre album in the past ten years. I figured they were content to just keep touring on their old material indefinitely. Cake finally broke the silence this year with an album and this catchy single that highlights the band’s signature sound. It sounds just like a Cake song should, and I mean that as a compliment. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

17. Cocaine & Tunes – The Sun

And speaking of long waits, the lost album from The Sun finally surfaces. This one has a long back-story, and is filled with lots of second-hand info, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of what I’ve heard. ANYWAYS, The Sun was an Ohio college band that was fronted by my friend Chris from high school. They were signed to a major label and put out an amazing album back in 2005. The album, Blame It On The Youth, was notable for not being released as a playable cd, but rather as a data disc that contained audio files of all the songs as well as videos for every song on the album. At the time, it seemed like a unique way to get people to buy an album right when the music industry was tanking hard1. It did not work, and the albums sales were light despite positive critical response. The only press it got was for this video, which features shots of people’s faces as they achieve orgasm.

After the albums’ failure, the quintet lost two members and went back to the studio as a trio to record the follow-up. According to my sources, their second album was completed around 2007 and subsequently rejected by Warner Brothers. Calling it not viable commercially, the studio shelved the entire album and demanded the band create a new album from scratch. The band opted to break-up instead, and the album sat on the shelf until 2010. The album, Don’t Let Your Baby Have All The Fun, showed up as a free download on the band’s MySpace page last year to the delight of my high school pals. While I don’t think it’s as good as their first album, I can’t believe that it was shelved by the studio. Several tracks, including this one, feature the same toe-tapping, loose energy that made their first album so enjoyable. Finally hearing the album confirmed that The Sun’s unnatural death was premature. Still, I’m glad that I finally got to hear their unplanned swan song.

18. Cousins – Vampire Weekend

After the resounding success of Vampire Weekend’s debut album back in 2008, expectations were EXTREMELY high for their sophomore album, Contra. And unlike many recent indie darlings, Vampire Weekend managed to avoid the sophomore slump. While not as good straight through as their first album, Contra contained several songs that were instant classics. This track was their leadoff single, and my favorite on the album. Despite the inventive video

this track was dwarfed by the next two singles and largely forgotten. It’s a shame, because I think that this is Vampire Weekend at its best.

19. Let’s Go Surfing – The Drums

Of all the songs in 2010, this is the one that I struggled with the most when considering it for inclusion. I first heard the song from this video on Subterranean

And immediately had a split opinion on it. The video was too pompus, the band seemed way too self-satisfied, and the song was almost too poppy. I dismissed it right away, and yet I spent the next few weeks trying to get it out of my head. The refrain was so catchy2 and the “Down-Down-Baby” part was just so singable. I downloaded the track to see if it was better without the visuals, and spent months arguing with myself over its merits and weaknesses. And like Walter White killing the handcuffed man in Jesse’s basement, I eventually decided the list of pros outweighed the cons. I’m curious to see what other think of this song. Thoughts?

20. Never Gonna Leave Me – Sia

Yet another song that’s kept me waiting for years. As you may or may not know, I am a diehard fan of The Strokes. When the band went on hiatus after 2006, I assumed the band’s members would all be working on solo albums in the near future. I was really looking forward to an album by my favorite band member, guitarist Nick Valensi. So I waited, and waited while the other four members released solo projects. Nothing from Nick. The band’s other guitarist, Albert Hammond Jr. actually released two solo albums, and still nothing from Nick. By last year I just assumed that I wouldn’t hear from Nick until The Strokes release their next album. But then I saw a snippet in a Spin magazine that said Nick was working with Australian singer Sia on her new album. I had no idea who Sia was, but I knew from the first thirty seconds of hearing her album We Are Born that I was hearing Nick Valensi for the first time in few years. As it turned out, waiting to work with Sia was actually a pretty shrewd move. His familiar jangling guitars work as a great balance to her pop sensibility, especially on this upbeat track. Glad to hear one of my favorite guitarists back in action. And speaking of which, there’s a rumor that The Strokes’ first single off of their highly anticipated new album is getting released on Wednesday!

21. All Summer – Converse All Stars

Once again, Converse had THE song of my summer. Back in 2008 the shoe company invited a diverse group of musician to their studio to record an ode to summertime. The resulting track, My Drive Thru, was a collaboration of Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Pharrell from The Neptunes, and Santigold. It ruled my summer that year.

In 2010, Converse tried the same approach, and had another eclectic trio write an ode to summer. This time it was Kid Cudi, Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend Bethany Cosentino from Best Coast. While not quite as cool as the original, it was still worthy of heavy play over the summer. Finally determined hydrators like me getting some props! My favorite shoe company creating songs about summer is awesome on so many levels and I hope it continues for years to come.

22. Empire Ants – Gorillaz

The last song of disc one was pulled out of the scrap heap at the end of the year. And by scrap heap I am referring to the massively disappointing third album by Gorillaz. Plastic Beach was such a letdown after the animated band’s stellar first two albums. I was expecting great things and I tried real hard to like this shoddy mess. Yet the only track I found acceptable was the short song Orchestral Trailer, which is mostly just a symphony orchestra tuning up their instruments. I gave up after a few listening.

I didn’t discover this hidden gem until I was reading a best of 2010 list by a friend with far better taste than me, James. On his recommendation, I gave this track another try and was amazed that I managed to miss it the first time. I was having a tough time ending the first disc until I rediscovered this track. The mellow vibe that starts out the track combined with the melodic synth at the end seemed perfect for fading out at the end of the disc.

And speaking of endings, that’s all for disc one; check back tomorrow for the start of disc two.


The Captain

1 Fun bit of trivia – their album was the last time I walked into an actual music store and bought a new cd. That was 2005. Six years later I legally downloaded it for free. Crazy.

2 I thought the refrain was “Oh mama, I wanna go surfing” at first. Then it started to sound more like the singer was saying Obama, but I thought that couldn’t be true. So I googled the song and found out he’s actually saying Obama. Apparently the singer was so excited the evening of the 2008 election that he went surfing to celebrate and wrote this song afterwards. Pretty cool.

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