One Hundred Sixty-Eight Songs (that’s 17 albums) in 3 days.

  • the flaming lips [ego tripping at the gates of hell]
  • the faint [danse macabre remixes]
  • david bowie [earthling]
  • the clebanoff strings [exciting sounds]
  • saint etienne [finisterre]
  • they might be giants [factory showroom]
  • chris cornell [euphoria morning]
  • cq soundtrack
  • nobukazu takemura [finale: for issey miyake men by naoki takizawa]
  • southern culture on the skids [dirt track date]
  • the chemical brothers [dig your own hole]
  • pizzicato five [couples]
  • mudhoney [five dollar bob’s mock cooter stew]
  • eyes wide shut soundtrack
  • the chemical brothers [exit planet dust]
  • yo la tengo [fakebook]
  • lalo schifrin [enter the dragon]

A very productive couple of days. in fact the past 6 days represents 8.6% of the playtime accomplished since tunequest began. not a bad performance. however, now i’ve got far too many tunes to write about here, so here are some quick thoughts:

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Tchaikovsky, I’m Sure, would be nonplussed

nutcracker costume

You know, Tchaikovsky wasn’t all that pleased with his Nutcracker and I’m sure he would be both surprised and concerned about its modern-day popularity, particularly in America. Regardless of his feelings however, it is, in this writer’s opinion, indisputable, that the ballet (and especially the concert suite) is a fine, enjoyable composition. Maybe it’s because the pieces are simple, but clever. And if there’s something that Americans enjoy, it’s things that are simple and clever. Snide remarks aside, the Berliner Philharmoniker’s 1966 performance under Karajan is spectacular.

quickies:
though delay 1968 is before the bands’ prime, can delivers one fantastic song (‘thief’) on top of a ground-breaking album.
i’ve heard cornelius has been described as japan’s greatest natural resource and can pretty much confirm that.

I can never gauge if I like Puffy

Every time I think i’m ready to ditch those poppy-japanese-rock-girls, I hear the songs that got me interested in the first place. So i explore their music and find myself intrigued, but underwelmed by much of their catalog. Then I start contemplating the removal of the less compelling songs from my library. entering “evaluation mode,” I listen to their songs and can’t help but find most of them catchy and, at the same time, exasperating, with those two reactions constantly fighting each other. Then the cycle begins again. Maybe it’s because they’re Japanese and the cultural differences interfere with my normal reflexes.

In any event, Amiyumi is a decent enough record with Usagi Channel being a stand out track. If nothing else, that song is worth keeping around.

Facing the Phantom Menace

Though the movie was somewhat disappointing (Ii’m not a rabid Star Wars purist, but I do admit the film could have been better), John William exceeds expectations, filling his own very big shoes for the score to Episode I: The phantom Menace. Like any good Star Wars music fan, I bought the album when it was released and had most of it memorized by the film’s premiere (midnight showing!).

Williams pulls out all the stops, creating an original album that is closely tied to the Star Wars universe without being derivative of the first trilogy. His original themes are excellent: the action and conflict of The Duel of the Fates, the luster and majesty of the Theme for the Old Republic, the grinding militarism and menace of The Trade Federation Battle March and the tenderness of young Anakin’s Theme, which, if you listen closely, you can hear an echo of the Imperial March.

And to this day, whenever I hear the segue from the end celebration march to the closing fanfare, I still tense up with the memory of the theater packed with Star Wars fans exploding into cheers and applause.

Gives me goosebumps still.

Pretty hate machine

i wasn’t conscious of nine inch nails when pretty hate machine was released. in 1989, i turned 11 and whatever counted for my music appreciation at the time was mostly limited to the weekend top 40 countdown with casey kasem. it wasn’t until a couple years later that i had my first nails experience. i was about 14 by then and starting to comprehend music as an art and as pop culture phenomena. my dad had finally opted to subscribe to cable and the video for ‘wish’ was in heavy rotation on mtv, back when the M stood for "music" and not "mediocre." i was expanding my musical boundaries rapidly as the so-called "alternative revolution" was sweeping the nation.

though i was hooked by the end of the first guitar riff, i remember other, older nin fans just trashing ‘wish,’ proclaiming broken a disappointment (an understatement) compared to pretty hate machine. it became a refrain i would hear often with each new release. why those people continued to be nine inch nails fans, i still don’t understand, just as much as i don’t understand the pedestal PHM has been placed on. aside from a few stand out tracks (the opening trio is gangbusters), pretty hate machine is probably the weakest overall release in the catalog, even compared to all the weak material on the fragile. and why shouldn’t it be? it was a debut album after all, and trent has had 17 years to experiment, refine and improve his style.

Spiritualized, Stereolab, This Heat, more

Here are some quickies; enjoy:
Spiritualized, some drifty, hazy, drugged-out psychedelia. Lots of fuzz.

The Aluminum Tunes album is nothing special, but anything by stereolab is worth listening to.

I didn’t know anything about this heat other than I enjoyed their album Deceit until I checked out the wikipedia, which pretty much reflects the album. Based on their sound, I would have pegged them as German, except for the lyrics to Independence, in which they sing the American Declaration of Independence. Given that, I was surprised to discover the group is British. hat tip to jon for this.

A strong showing from The Chemical Brothers on come with us, especially My Elastic Eye which seems to be inspired by the castle theme to Dragon Warrior.

April 18-20 : 135 songs played. 34 removed.

so i broke the 3000 mark recently (which incidentally was the posies ‘open every window’ from the legendary dgc rarities compilation), and it occurred to me just how big a project this is and just how large, in practical terms, my iTunes library is. yeah, i know 14,000 songs is a lot, but really, in my head, it’s just been a number. though i am prepared to complete this project over the long haul, it seems daunting when i hit a milestone such as 3,000 (a respectable number by itself) and still see that i have more than 11,000 to go.

today’s entry:

  • deletron 3030 [deletron 3030]
  • christopher franke [babylon 5: a late delivery from avalon]
  • nine inch nails [demos and remixes]
  • yo la tengo [and then nothing turned itself inside out]
  • elastica [elastica]
  • oslo philharmonic performing tchaikovsky’s no.1
  • masamichi amano [battle royale]
  • dusty trails [dusty trails]
  • christopher franke [babylon 5: chrysalis]
  • marseille philharmonic live at the opera de marseille conducted by lalo schifrin

elastica, in my mind, never seemed to reach the point of appreciation where i would be like "yeah, elastica rules!" even though i’ve owned their debut album for almost 11 years. on the flipside, in those 11 years, i’ve never had a period of time when the band fell out of favor; there’s just been a consistent mild respect and liking for the music. and it continues to this day. elastica’s first album is really quite enjoyable, inventive and catchy. •

there is a lot to like about yo la tengo and if i had to name the preeminent band that carry’s the "indie rock" torch, they would be a top contender. and while their body of work is extensive and all of it is above par, none of their albums are as brilliant as 2000’s and then nothing turned itself inside out. it is a departure from the band’s earlier work, the kind of diversifying album rockers start to make as they get older. mellow and gently meandering, it takes a mostly moderate tempo and incorporates a wide range influences, creating a beautiful and relaxing collection of tunes. it was the song ‘madeline’ on this album that turned me from a casual listener to a real yo la tengo fan. and, of course, the song titles taken from troy mclure movies earn this record extra points. •

quickies:

dusty trails, the side project of former breeders and luscious jackson members, has a similar sound and feel to and then nothing turned itself inside out, but with a more 60s cinematic atmosphere to it. simply elegant it is.
nine inch nails demos and remixes is a bootleg that features some disconcerting early versions of now-familiar standards. if nothing else, it’s interesting to hear how the songs progressed before landing on an album.

April 14-17 : 163 songs played. 25 removed

&t

last week was a good week for tunequest. not only is 381 songs a new weekly best, but i achieved a new daily best on april 10. this is precisely the pace i need to keep, but in retrospect it seems i spent all my free time working on this project last week and i hope not to burn out on it. as a bit of a bonus, i had a more productive than usual weekend contributing to this week’s gains.

and while i’m on the subject of progress, i made some new calculations that take into account the rate at which i’m weeding songs from my library, not just the rate at which i’m listening. so far, i’ve had a net decline of 5 songs per day. i’m fine with that; i know i’ve had detritus accumulating for years now and it needs to be cleared out. when those numbers are taken into account, it looks like i would be able to get though an additional 13,000 songs before the end of the year, a 1500 song surplus, which is certainly more optimistic than what the graphs are saying.

and while i’m on the subject of calculations (take that, segue!), i discovered that after 2 months of listening, the top 10% of songs are now responsible for 46% of the total playcounts, a 3% decline from when i started. this has lead me thinking about the iTunes library as a metaphor for economics and society. i imagine the total number of songs to be the population of a society and the number of plays a song has represents its "wealth." heck, this model even takes into account governmental directives; by listening to the lower-played songs, i’m "aiding the poor." this would be a fascinating essay to write. i may just do some research on it.

but enough meta, onward tunequest:

  • add n to (x) [avant hard]
  • michael andrews [donnie darko]
  • dennis mccarthy [deep space nine: the visitor]
  • dave grohl/foo fighters [dave grohl demos]
  • gorillaz [demon days]
  • glitter mini 9 [break up at the rock show]
  • philip glass [dracula]
  • golden shower GS [digital 2600]
  • four tet [dialogue]
  • nine inch nails [the fragile – left]
  • cibo matto [stereo type a]
  • howard shore [lord of the rings: the two towers]
Derided as self-indulgent by many, the fact of the matter remains that nine inch nailsthe fragile contains some of trent’s best songwriting, just mixed in with more filler. ‘the day the world went away,’ ‘even deeper,’ and ‘the wretched’ (especially that one) are among the finest in the entire nails catalog. most of the fragile’s strength is on the ‘left’ disc, though ‘right’ starts off well but quickly meanders, but that’s a topic for another post. •

the dave grohl demos bootleg i picked up in paris (at fnac, maybe) 10 years ago, when foo fighters were still very new and still "dave grohl’s new solo side project." it’s an interesting collection of mostly pre-nirvana material, much of which would be reworked for inclusion on foo fighters self-titled and the colour and the shape. there’s even a live performance of ‘down in the park’ (official version appears on songs in the key of x) where dave doesn’t quite know the words and a solo acoustic version of ‘marigold’ (titled ‘color pictures of a marigold’), the ‘heart-shaped box’ b-side and only nirvana song that dave gets sole writer’s credit for. •

quickies:
miho and yuka, please stop appearing on everyone else’s records and put together a new cibo matto record, stereo type a is brilliant and we want some more, dammit. and don’t give me any of that ‘"we’ve broken up" business. you’re good on your own, but you’re great together.
speaking of miho, gorillaz’s demon days is an ok record, though somewhat disappointing. ‘feel good inc’ and ‘fire coming out of a monkey’s head’ are superlative.
and finally, i have heard the soundtrack to the end of the world, and it is ‘revenge of the black regent’ by add n to (x).

break up at the rock show

sometime in 2001, i bought an "indie" music magazine, probably cmj or some similar trash rag. you know, i tried to subscribe to cmj once, but they only sent me bills, never any magazines, so i quickly got fed up and have not read an issue since. but that one particular issue came with a cd that had some 150 or so mp3s from as just many bands. and they all sucked, except one: glitter mini 9’s ‘cuckoo’ from breakup at the rock show.

that record is a wonderful mess of girrl rock angst delivered with so much hard-driving post-alternative pop savvy, it’s captivating.

break up at the rock show is pretty damn awesome. it’s too bad the group itself broke up in 2003.

epitonic has a couple downloads.