The Captain Listens To The Bees

Due to overwhelming demand, I have decided to post a discussion of the bonus disc I distributed this year.  Modern Rock B-Sides is a disc that I’ve been working on all year.  Originally, I thought that I would create a “Best Of” disc to commemorate the first five years of Modern Rock discs.  However, upon further examination I realized that I hate it when bands put out greatest hits discs.  Who really wants a disc full of songs they already have?  I enjoy it when bands put out a disc of b-sides and rarities.  So that’s what I vowed to do, create a disc of full of songs that could have or should have been included on the Modern Rock 2002-2006 discs.  Here are the tracks that I selected.

1.     Good To Me – The White Stripes

This is one of my favorite Stripes songs, and one of the only songs on my disc that is an actual b-side.  This was released as a b-side on the “Seven Nation Army” single back in 2003.  I love everything about this song, from the catchy riffs to the sweet message it conveys.  I almost included it on the disc I gave away for the wedding, but I elected to instead have it lead off my bonus disc this year.  I think I made the right decision.

2.     Cheated Hearts – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

This track is the first of many on my disc that qualify as a runner-up.  See, I have a fairly strict one-track-per-artist rule on most of my discs.  This poses a problem when there are two songs that deserve inclusion.  Inevitably, one song loses out and gets the boot.1

This particular track lost out to “Gold Lion” on the 2006 disc.  They both came off of the YYY’s amazing second disc, Show Your Bones.  Both were fantastic songs, but in the end I chose not to include this track.  In retrospect, I think this was a mistake.  This is definitely the stronger track, if for no other reason than the line “sometimes I think that I’m bigger than the sound.”  Karen O managed to sum up the band in one friggin’ line. Amazing.

3.     Lost Angeles – Wired All Wrong

This track belongs to the other major category of songs on this disc:  The ones I missed.  No matter how hard I try I will never catch all of the good music that comes out in a year.   Often I will be listening to some great music only to realize that it came out a year or two ago.  A b-sides disc seems like the perfect place to include all of the good songs that I missed.This particular track was released without much fanfare in 2006.  The band consists of former members of Self and God Lives Underwater.  The latter were one of my favorite bands of the late nineties, and their influence is quite apparent on this album.  Resident obscure music guru DavelyBob recommended WAW earlier this year, and I’ve been rocking out to their album ever since.

4.     The Way It Is – The Strokes

It just wouldn’t be a Modern Rock disc without the Strokes.  This track was on the Strokes’ vastly underrated second album, 2003’s Room On Fire.  The song “12:51” was included on the 2003 disc, and “Reptilia” made it onto the 2004 disc.  If I could do it over again, I would replace “12:51” with this song.  This is a much stronger track that got shelved in favor of the albums first single.  I guess that’s why this one is on the b-sides disc.  Like most of their songs, the Strokes keep this one tight and right.  After a disappointing third album, I’m hoping their fourth is a triumphant return to form.

5.     Get Out Of The Way – The Vines

This track was a runner-up to “Get Free” from the 2002 disc.  Both tracks were from the Vines blazing debut Highly Evolved.  I’m a sucker for heavy guitars mixed with harmonized screaming, and this track has plenty of both.  I really enjoyed this band, but I knew they wouldn’t last.  They made a decent second album before frontman Craig Nicholls lost his grip on sanity.  Their third album was terrible, and it only clocked in at 30 minutes.  The group is said to be currently working on a fourth album, but I’m less than optimistic.

6.     Up The Bracket – The Libertines

I discovered the Libertines back in 2004 thanks to my old neighbor Josh.  However, this song is the title track off of their 2002 album.  I rocked out their 2004 self-titled album for several months before realizing that it was their second album.  I promptly downloaded their first album and felt foolish for missing out on this band band’s early days.  See, the Libertines were fronted by Pete Doherty.  By 2004 he had already started making headlines for stealing the band’s equipment and selling it for drugs.  From there it’s been one long dating-kate-moss-and-doing-drugs-with-a-cat downhill plunge.  I wish I could have enjoyed the band before Pete cast his junkie shadow over the band.  As evidenced by this track, the band had a lot of potential that has since disappeared like a cloud of crack smoke from crazy Pete’s lungs.

7.     5 Times Out Of 100 – Hot Hot Heat

Hot Hot Heat were another band that had a ton of potential that was eventually squandered.  Andy from Austin introduced HHH to me back in 2003, and I was instantly attracted to their poppy-dance shtick.  “Bandages” from their major label debut Make Up The Breakdown was included on my 2003 disc.  I downloaded all the stuff they put out on indie labels, and I found this gem on their 2002 EP Knock Knock Knock.  At the time, I really dug vocal and keyboard stylings of frontman Steve Bays.  This would be short lived.  Since then, the band has released two more sub-par albums not worth mentioning.  Another potential star that burnt out fast.

8.     Unretrofied – The Dillinger Escape Plan

This track almost made it onto my 2004 disc, but was cut at the last minute due to its considerable length.  I had to cut some of the intro and outro just to get it to fit on this disc.  I listened to this song quite a bit back in 2004, and then promptly forgot about it once I cut it from Modern Rock.  DavelyBob was kind enough to remind me of the greatness of this song when he included it in his Song of the Day mailing.  Davely knows way more about the band than I do, so I will simply say that the synthesizers on this track are amazing.  Great song.

9.     Rifles – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

BRMC are another band that I discovered a bit late.  My college roommate Eric had been championing the band for years before I gave them a serious listen in 2005.  The title track from 2005’s Howl made it on my disc that year, but the real gem is the band’s self-titled 2002 debut.  The whole album is equal parts beauty and darkness, which are both present in abundance on this particular track.  They put out a solid disc this year, and the track “All You Do Is Talk” almost made it onto the 2007 disc before it was cut due to length.2

10. How Hard Is That – MC Paul Barman

I’ll never understand why Paul Barman never made it big.  His rapid-fire-yet-easily-understandable rhymes combined with sample heavy tunes made for an instant classic in 2002’s Paullelujah!, yet no one heard the album.  I hadn’t heard of him until Scottie recommended him in 2005.  His witty, foul mouth instantly won me over.  On this track he waxes poetic on so called artists over a sample from The Big Lebowski soundtrack.  Pure genius.  Why Paul wallowed in obscurity while Marshall Mathers ruled the chart is a mystery to me.

11. Push Things Forward – The Streets

While we are on the topic of white rappers who never got their due, what happened to Mike Skinner?  This British geezer put out three albums under the pseudonym The Streets, and no one was listening.  Hilarious rhymes delivered with a thick cockney accent seems like a winning combination to me.  This track was runner-up to “The Irony Of It All” on the 2003 disc.  As a side note, the track “When You Wasn’t Famous” was actually a runner-up to this track for the b-sides disc.  I guess if I ever make a c-sides disc I will have to include it.

12. DARE – Gorillaz

What can I say about the Gorillaz that hasn’t already been said somewhere?  I enjoyed their 2001 self-titled debut, mostly because I was a closet Blur fan in the nineties.  Their sophomore effort was much better, mostly because Danger Mouse took control of the sound boards.  There were so many good songs on Demon Days that I had a hard time picking two for my 2005 discs.  I ended up selecting “Feel Good, Inc.” and “Last Living Souls” and cutting this fine track in the process.  I guess since this track and “Feel Good, Inc.” were released as singles, they should have made the Modern Rock 2005 disc, and “Last Living Souls” should be here on the b-sides.  Regardless, all three were great songs.  Damon Albarn does a mean falsetto on this track, and the beat is full of ass-shaking goodness.

13. Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Similar to the Gorillaz track, I had three songs by CYHSY I wanted to include on the 2005 discs and only two slots.  For various reasons I decided to cut this track, which I guess makes it the runner-up to the runner-up.  I believe I originally cut this song due to the last half of the song where the singer repeats the same phrase roughly 60 bazillion times.  Still a great track.  I tried really hard to like their sophomore album, 2007’s Some Loud Thunder, but I never really was able to enjoy it.  Hope their third album gets them back on track.

14, Holding Me Up – The Dandy Warhols

This track found me completely asleep at the wheel.  The Dandy’s were one of my favorites of the “alternative” bands in the nineties.  Then when this decade hit, they decided to put out a bunch of drivel.  I gave several of their albums a try throughout this decade and finally gave up in 2004.  So of course they put out a great album in 2005.  I didn’t catch wind of this track until my college roommate Eric included it on his best of disc last year.  This song reminded me of everything that I love about the Dandy’s sound.  I hope they stick with the sound that made me love them for their next album.

15. Break Up The Ding Dong – Beta Band

Beta Band are probably more famous for having unlimited potential than their actual music.  Their inclusion in the film High Fidelity sent them skyrocketing through the rock-nerd stratosphere, a jump from which they never recovered.  After the phenomenal compilation The 3 EPs, they managed to put out two more mediocre albums before calling it quits in 2005.  This particular track was a b-side from 2002 that wound up being released on the soundtrack to Igby Goes Down.  Too much acclaim too early almost always ends up killing a band.  ‘Tis a shame.

16. Gone Daddy Gone – Gnarls Barkley

I am convinced that there is no genre that Danger Mouse cannot conquer.  His quirky eye for melody has resulted in genius in whatever he touches.  This track is a perfect example.  Normally I would look at a cover of one of my favorite Violent Femmes song that features a rapper from Atlanta with nothing but disdain.  However, somehow Danger Mouse turns it into gold.  This was a very close runner-up to “Crazy” on the 2006 disc, but ended up losing at the last minute.  This was the exact moment that I decided to make a b-sides bonus disc for 2007.  Thank you Danger Mouse.

17. Not About Love – Fiona Apple

I tried very hard to include this track on the first disc of my Modern Rock 2005 discs.  In the end, it just didn’t work out with the aesthetic that I had planned.  I designed the first disc to be the heavier of the set, and the second disc to be the mellower of the two.  “Extraordinary Machine” fit perfectly on the second disc, but this track just didn’t work on the heavier disc.  While this song is pretty heavy by Fiona Apple’s standards, it just didn’t sound right on the first disc.  Which is a shame, because this is a fantastic track.  Glad I was able to include this track here and still keep the Modern Rock 2005 discs as I had envisioned3

18. Sunset Soon Forgotten – Iron & Wine

As I mentioned countless time before, I am a huge fan of Sam Beam.  The fact that this uber-talented fellow is still flies under the radar while a mediocre fellow like Dave Matthews flies high with a legion of fans is a great injustice to me.  I discovered Iron and Wine with the 2004 masterpiece Our Endless Numbered Days.  I loved all the tracks on this album so much that I was literally unable to pick just one to include on the 2004 disc.  I still found it difficult to pick just one for my disc this time around.  It just as easily could have been “Love and Some Verses,” “Passing Afternoon,” or “Each Coming Night.”  The genius of this man needs to be heard by everyone.

19. Michigan – Ambulance LTD

This is the last of my runner-up tracks.  It was the one that lost out for Modern Rock 2005, being beat by “Yoga Means Union” and “Stay Where You Are.”  These guys put out one hell of an album in 2005, and put on one hell of a live show at Lollapalooza that year.  They were due to put out an album at the end of this year, but no word on a release date has been given.  I’m hoping they spent a couple of extra months perfecting things in the studio.  This is my most anticipated album for 2008.  I need this one to be good for my own sanity’s sake.

20. How It Ends – Devotchka

Seems like a good song to end the disc.  This is another band that managed to get by me.  They were recommended to me by my buddy Mike.  Their 2004   album is on par with two of my favorite eclectic mix albums, Chocolate and Cheese by Ween and 69 Love Songs by Magnetic Fields.  By this I mean that the album sounds like a mix tape, but is actually all the same artist.     Devotchka’s sound is all over the map, but luckily they found the right places on the map to land.  This track manages to take a synthesizer and a string section and capture a beauty seldom heard.  The band released a well   received EP in 2006, and is said to be hard at work on a new album.    Hopefully they will be a prominent part of Modern Rock 2008!

And there you have it, the full list .  I wish I could say that this will be my last list for awhile, but I’ll probably write a 2007 year in review list in the next couple of days.  Until then, enjoy the music and the last remaining days of the year!

Ciao,

The Captain

1  I had such a problem with this in 2005 that I decided to put out two discs of Modern Rock, thereby alleviating my one-track-per-artist rule.

2  Which means it will inevitably end up on the next b-sides disc I’ll make in another five years.

3  Well, mostly as I envisioned.  How I was able to rationalize putting a Nine Inch Nails song on a mellow disc is beyond me now.

Published: Thursday, 27 December 2007

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