Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tears for Fears vs. The Rolling Stones

"Sowing the Seeds of Love" by Tears for Fears, from The Seeds of Love (1989)
Image hosting by TinyPic Rich orchestration and synth delight from this oft-underrated duo. Anyone who thinks of Tears for Fears as a one-hit novelty is sorrily mistaken. The title track to their follow-up to the wildly succesful Songs from the Big Chair weaves a sonic tapestry of trumpets, keys and those familar vocals from Manchester's synth-pop masters. Seeds drew some lofty comparisons upon its release, most notably to The Beatles (think 'Penny Lane'). Of course, what post-60s Britpop artists haven't, at one time, been compared to the Beatles? Nevertheless, this track is a joy to listen to even if it does reach a bit over the top.

"Salt of the Earth" by The Rolling Stones, from the Concert for New York City (2001)
Image hosting by TinyPic This is the Rolling Stones contribution to the post-9/11 concert put on at Madison Square Garden. I can't help but remember how uninspired I was when I watched that concert, still cowering in my Brooklyn apartment, my view altered forever. This is an emotional outpouring, a toast to the common man. I think there were firemen on stage. I don't really remember.

WINNER: Can't seem to shake the brits from my jukebox. In this battle, I just have to go with Tears for Fears. The band, not the actual tears and fears that come along with the other track.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Audio Bullys vs. Radiohead

"100 Million" by Audio Bullys, from Ego War (2003)
Image hosting by TinyPic UK hip-hop is a funny thing. It's difficult for me to take seriously. I don't know why, it's probably not fair, but it just seems like something they're still kind of pretending at. Or maybe it's just different. UK hip hop is actually more reminiscent of the hip hop I actually like, stuff from the 90s, from before the word 'bling' was invented, back when hip hop artists still had fun. That's what this track, from the Audio Bullys debut album, gives you. Opening with a puff from a joint and driving through three-and-half minutes of rapidfire wit and rhymes, this cut makes you want to dance, not stomp on someone's head. The difference between US and UK hip hop? If you ran into these guys in a dark alley you'd probably be challenged to a dance-off or something. At worst. If you bump into DMX his pit bulls just may eat your face off.

"Permanent Daylight" by Radiohead, from the My Iron Lung EP (1994)
Image hosting by TinyPic This is what the UK does best. Love Radiohead, gotta state the bias right up front. This is two-and-a-half-minutes of pure screeching, pounding, fuzztastic guitarwork from O'Brien and the Greenwoods, backed by Yorke's subtle, muted, beautiful nonsense. This track comes from the 8-track Iron Lung EP released around the time of The Bends, almost as an outtakes album. This cut isn't even near to the strongest on the record (Lewis anyone?), but it still fills me with the anticipated pleasure of another Radiohead musical mindfuck. The Kingdom approves.

WINNER: A couple of wannabe Eminem brats from South London don't have a chance against Yorke and the boys. Thanks for the insanity Radiohead.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Taj Mahal vs. Harry Nilsson

"Think" by Taj Mahal, from Senor Blues (1997)
Image hosting by TinyPic Blues master gets his funk on in the sun through much of the Senor Blues album, this track being no different. A classic soul blues bounce with squealing horns, an Aretha-inspired hook and lyrical pleas and protestations of devotion from the Taj himself. This is one you can skip too and still feel ok about it.

"Coconut" by Harry Nilsson, from Nilsson Schmilsson (1971)
Image hosting by TinyPic Put the lime in the coconut and drink 'em both together. Can you really argue with the advice given in this song? Even if it makes no sense, it sure sounds tasty. This track guarantees a laugh, and Nilsson, a seriously overlooked artist, yelps and crows along with the cowbells and snare hits in a hilarious crescendo before the fade out. Now don't you feel better?

THE WINNER: Call the doctor. Wake him up. It's Nilsson.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Jon Brion vs. OMD

"Drive In" by Jon Brion, from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Image hosted by Odd but cozy selection coughed up by here, this from the extremely satisfying soundtrack to a beautiful film. Composer Jon Brion, as he always does, composed a score as joyful, as sad and as eerie as the film itself. This 2 minute 14 second interlude zigs and zags along until you can almost see the books disappearing from the shelves. Also great if you're stoned.

"Enola Gay" by OMD, from Organisation (1980)
Image hosted by This is one of those bands I've always liked but never really talked about, ya know? While I can't say I was paying attention when this beautiful pop number first jumped off their debut album, I can understand why it hit so hard. At the start of the 80s, this synth-heavy speed pop was where the tattered remains of disco retreated to. And it still holds up today.

THE WINNER: As pleasant as the Brion interludes always are, OMD gets this.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Beastie Boys vs. Beck

"Hey Fuck You" by Beastie Boys, from To The 5 Boroughs (2004)
Image hosted by First of all, the name of the track is 'Hey Fuck You.' Second of all, MCA gets his yid on immediately, dropping 'schnooks' into the song's first line. Third of all, it's the Beastie Boys. Get your middle fingers ready and sing-along.

"New Pollution" by Beck, from Odelay (1996)
Image hosted by I think Beck is a genius. This song, from the second album in which he emerged from one-hit 'loser' status and began to weave a tapestry of adventurous, swirling albums. Beck explores all avenues musically, which is why his songs are such a treat to listen to. This one rides a pounding snare and bass sample colluded by mechanical pops and whirs and Beck's dusty vocals. It's genius.

THE WINNER: Hey, fuck you Beasties, Beck wins this one.
Mocean Worker vs. David Gray

"Shamma Lamma Ding Dong" by Mocean Worker, from Enter the Mowo (2004)
Image hosted by An off the charts mixture of sampled flute from Rahsaan Roland Kirk and live instrumentation blended together with some wicked smooth drum & bass. You have to move if this comes on. It's impossible not to. Oh, and there's no do-wop on this cut.

"L's Song" by David Gray, from The EP's 92-94 (2001)
Image hosted by Funny, even the songs he recorded more than a decade a go sound exactly the same. Pleasant dreck, good for a rainy day... if you want to kill yourself.

THE WINNER: Simply naming the album 'Enter the Mowo' won Mocean this battle.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

First Choice vs. Thelonious Monk

"Newsy Neighbors" by First Choice, from Armed and Extremely Dangerous (1973)
Image hosted by This cut from the middle of the disco frenzy, delves into the complexities of asking for too many cups of sugar. Say what you will, this thing makes you want to dance. Driving rhythms, sizzling vocals, a coupla bongo breakouts, and the line: 'tell you what you can and can't afford, instead of getting a Caddy, they say get a Ford.' 70s Philadelphia Soul at it's very best.

"Humph" by Thelonious Monk, from Round Midnight (1963)
Image hosted by Another rollicking number from the genius Monk, anything from this man could contend. Not sure of the initial recording date on this number, or even if this is an original composition. I'd much rather sit back and enjoy the hell out of some pounding, teasing, jump jazz from a master of the craft, then do the research to find out. I just know I like it.

THE WINNER: Whew, jazz genius versus silky 70s soul. Much respect, but First Choice comes in second here, no matter how many favors they asking for. It is, after all, Monk.
The Shins vs. BoDeans

"Gone for Good" by The Shins, from Chutes Too Narrow (2003)
Image hosted by I'm not over The Shins, don't think I ever will be. Some bands, you just know you're going to always enjoy listening to. Even Natalie Portman's public outing hasn't ruined it for me. Of course I thought I'd love Dave Matthews forever too. *sigh* Despite that, I wait in anxious anticipation for the next album. This track, from the New Mexico collective's second album, whispers of country and folk and features, as always, infectious vocals from Jim Mercer. Not even close to the strongest track on this album, you still can't really go wrong with the formula.

"Good Things" by BoDeans, from On the Mountain, volume 1 (1992)
Image hosted by As much as it pains me to say, I can't claim to be a diehard BoDeans fan... Apologies to any raging BoDeaniacs out there... (do they have those?). What I am a fan of however is this series of discs from radio station KMTT in Seattle. Remember radio? Regular, commercial radio? That's what this is. For more than a decade, the station has put out annual collections of live, in-studio recordings featuring a wide sampling of artists. To be frank, I think this song sucks. But it was the first track on the first volume of an impressive catalog of music. Points for that.

THE WINNER: My love of a radio station can only go so far, it's still the BoDeans. Shins in a walk.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hot Chocolate vs. The Bee Gees

"Emma" by Hot Chocolate, from Every 1's a Winner (1978)
Image hosted by Where to begin? An enthusiastic, heartwarming tale of a girl named Emma. The power of UK international funk packaged in a breathing, crooning Benneton ad. A touch of strings, a vibrating bass line and haunting backing vox. Shit's good, 'specially since it's so cheesy. 'We're gonna write her name high on that silver screen. We're gonna make her the biggest star this world has ever seen.'

"How Deep is Your Love" by The Bee Gees, from Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Image hosted by Ok, who turned my iTunes over to the AM Gold people? I can't honestly get enthused about this song. As much as I enjoy the sheer oddity that is the Gibb falsetto, I've still got Emma's bassline thumping its way through my subconscious.

THE WINNER: Why it's Hot Chocolate, you sexy thing. No marshmallows necessary.