Archive for February 11th, 2011

The Captain Discusses Modern Rock 2010 Part Acht

17.  Thieves – She & Him

She & Him should be a great duo.  On paper, the unique musical stylings of M. Ward combined with the surprisingly good vocals of indie movie dream girl Zooey Deschanel should work.  But for the second album in a row I find myself underwhelmed by She & Him.  Their first album, Volume One, had a perfect made for radio single in “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here.”  Such is the case with this track off of Volume Two.  But once again the rest of their new album sounds like half-way written songs that still need some work.  I think that this track shows that the duo still has a lot of potential, but they need to harness it more than once an album to prove it is not a fluke.

18.  Stranded – The Walkmen

Normally I cringe when I hear that a band spent a lot of time traveling for inspiration to record their next album.  There are so many ways that this can turn out wrong, and only a few ways for it to turn out right.  This track is one of the good ways.  This New York band traveled to the album’s namesake, Libson, and brought back with them a relaxed vibe that suits them well.  Gone is the nervous energy that defined most of their previous work.  In a year where so many bands changed their sound to their detriment, I’m glad that it worked out well for a band or two.

19.  Way Back Home – Band of Horses

Band Of Horses continue to mystify me.  For the third time they’ve created an album full of ordinary mid-tempo songs and one way-too-incredible-to-be-associated-with-the-rest-of-this-bland-nonsense song.  What gives1?  I guess I shouldn’t complain when their one good song is this magnificent; it’s one more than most bands will ever make.  This time around, the band created the perfect homecoming song.  Last year this track was instrumental in my return flight from my Memorial Day weekend in Philly.  The soothing melody helped me get through a long day of exhaustion and flight delays.  It’s comforting without being sappy, which is hard to pull off in a song about returning home.

20.  Deadman’s Gun – Ashtar Command

In terms of embarrassing source material, this track is a first; it was featured in the soundtrack to a video game.  While that’s not quite as bad as friggin’ Twilight, it’s still pretty lame.  The song comes from my favorite video game of 2010, Red Dead Redemption.  In the context of the game, it works quite well as the emotional finale of the epic story.

Removed from the context of the game, the lyrics come off as a bit hokey.  But the melancholy melody and breathy vocals make it easy to ignore the gun related imagery.  As far as the musicians, I nothing about Ashtar Command and I’m not really that interested in learning.  I’m content with enjoying this song for what it is, a beautifully mellow way to bring this disc to it’s end.

21.  No Surprises – Regina Spektor

The final song of disc two is remarkable for so many reasons.  First, it’s the only cover song out of 43 tracks.  This was an intentional choice on my part to limit covers; after putting out a whole disc full of covers last year I wanted 2010 to be contrast.  I actually intended to ban cover songs this year, but this track was simply too amazing to pass up.  It’s a perfect combination of two tracks from my Modern Rock Covers disc.  It featured Regina’s piano and vocals cover of a John Lennon song, and Scala’s piano and vocals cover of another Radiohead song, Creep.  Put ‘em together and you’ve got No Surprises.

This also makes the third year in a row that I’ve included a song by Regina Spektor that isn’t featured on one of her albums.  I don’t know why, but she’s really good at contributing to compilations and terrible at making albums.  This track comes from a Doctors Without Borders compilation to benefit the victims of the Haiti earthquake.  What a beautiful way to support a good cause.

And with that, Modern Rock 2010 has come to an end.  Hope everyone enjoyed the tunes; check back tomorrow for some non-music related material for a change!

Ciao,

The Captain

1  At this point I guess the band is comfortable treating their albums like Jose Bautista treat a baseball game, i.e. one homerun and the rest strikeouts.

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