Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Contenders Series #7: Two Door Cinema Club - "Something Good Can Work"

(see also:  "My Year Versus Yours (CURRR-TISSS!!! Edition)")

(EDIT:  MP3 download removed)

Two Door Cinema Club hail from Northern Ireland, but they record for super-cool French indie label Kitsune.  While "obscure French label" might read as "pretentious and difficult for difficult's sake" to some, Two Door Cinema Club actually shares a fair amount of DNA with the native Frenchmen in Phoenix:  shimmering, incredibly accessible pop music.  This is basically the blueprint for a good, catchy song, the only downside being that it comes off as a little bit anonymous.  I think it could be re-worked into a hit for anybody (Can't you hear Fall Out Boy recording this?  What about *NSYNC?  Or is that just me?)

"Something Good Can Work" was released as a single in 2009 (when it caught Curt's ear, see below), but it will be re-released on 2010's Tourist History, the band's full-length debut.  So, as will become something of a tradition here for the next couple weeks, I'm cheating and putting it on the 2010 contenders list.  It's probably the best song on the record, though "Eat That Up, It's Good for You" and "You're Not Stubborn" are also standouts.

So enough about the band ... let's talk about Curt.  I assume most of you read his excellent work over at the La Crosse Tribune.  If you don't, well, why are you wasting your time reading this?  Priorities, people.

Anyway, Curt is pretty much the one person from high school I keep in touch with and, as he still lives in the greater La Crescent area, he's my expert on whether or not the pretty girls from the smallest towns really do get remembered like storms and droughts (his verdict:  YES!).  He also has incredibly diverse taste in music, in that he'll go seek out the obscure and random (as his list below proves), but he also makes time for whatever Nickelback-ish sludge-rock is on Midwestern radio at any given time.

That sounds like an insult, and ... it is ... but not really.  I mean, I own TWO Avril Lavigne albums.  Who am I to judge anyone?  I think, as a music fan, it's your job to be neither elitist nor anti-elitist.  You have to concede that a huge segment of radio pop is hot garbage, but you have to keep your ears open for that rare gem (y'know ... like Avril).  You have to understand that far too many hipsters live for the spiteful thrill of out-obscuring each other, but realize that just because you've never heard of a band, that doesn't mean they aren't worth your time.  Curt does as good a job bridging that gap as anyone I know.

So, after slogging his way through my "100 Songs for 2009" list, Curt was kind enough to pass on a CD titled "Songs You May Have Missed."  It is the greatest gift anyone has ever given me.

Here's the list, with comments where I could think of them.  If I couldn't think of anything to say, assume my take was something like "moderately pleasant, but not setting my world on fire."  (Also, here's a tip:  If I'm every bothering you for your opinion on some song I've been obsessing over recently but you don't really care about ... you can use that comment, too.)


Band of Skulls - I Know What I Am
Not nearly metal enough to be called Band of Skulls.  Still, enjoyable blues-rock.  I feel like Ilana's brother may have been talking about this band recently.  You are on the fringes of my reality, Band of Skulls.
Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer
Folksy!  This made Bill Simmons' year-end list, too, and hopefully I'll have a chance to pick that one apart in a later post.
Bon Iver - Blood Bank
As I've mentioned before, I'm horribly embarrassed this song wasn't on my "100 Songs for 2009" list.  I just ... I don't know what happened.  I guess I just got sick of everyone in the entire world talking about how great For Emma, Forever Ago was, and I didn't really get it, and I just started to block out all reference to Blood Bank, the song and the album.  But this song ... this would have been borderline Top Ten.
Brandi Carlile - Dreams

Cage the Elephant - Ain't No Rest for the Wicked
This is the worst cover of Kid Rock's "Cowboy" I've ever heard.
Civil Twilight - Letters from the Sky
Cobra Starship - Pete Wentz is the Only Reason We're Famous 
Coconut Records - Microphone

Dios Malos - Hermit
Years ago, this band just went by the name "Dios."  Then, in the greatest legal maneuver of all time, they were sued by 80s rock superstar and hilarious South Park character Ronnie James Dio for for ripping off his name.  So now, Ronnie James Dio apparently owns all rights to the Spanish word for God.  True story.  Also, good song.
Elvis Perkins - 123 Goodbye 
Eulogies - Day to Day 
Faunts - Feel.Love.Thinking.Of

Florence and the Machine - Dog Days are Over
Florence and the Machine - Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)
Florence and the Machine - You've Got the Love

When Ilana and I were in London for New Year's last year, I picked up a copy of NME, the British music magazine.  It was their "Artists to Watch for 2009" issue.  On the cover:  Florence and the Machine.  Well, they didn't do a whole lot in America, but a boy named Curt fell in love with them, which, as I understand it, is the goal of most red-haired British girls.  Curt and I agree that these are the three best songs on the album, and "You've Got the Love" might have snuck into my 2009 list if I hadn't left that magazine on the plane.
fun. - At Least I'm Not as Sad (As I Used to Be)
Before I'd even finished listening to this song, I sent Curt an email that said "The very existence of this song validates our entire friendship."  This is the best new discovery for me on this list.  Turns out, fun. is the work of the guy who used to be in The Format, and this song does come off as a slightly weirder version of the power-pop gems on their classic album Dog Problems.  As for fun., they've got a fistful of great songs, too:  "All the Pretty Girls," "Walking the Dog," and "(Take Your Time) Coming Home" are all more than worthy of a listen.
Gary Go - Wonderful
For a guy who doesn't like Coldplay, this is the most Coldplay-ish song in the history of the world.  If you're not imagining Al Michaels narrating some kind of "Olympic Heroes" montage when that "Say I am ..." pre-chorus starts up ... well, we don't relate to music the same way.
Great Northern - Houses
Greg Laswell - Your Ghost 
Hallelujah the Hills - Wave Backwards to Massachusetts

Harlem Shakes - Sunlight
Harlem Shakes - Technicolor Health

Hey, I love the Harlem Shakes record as much as anyone.  They had two songs on my list.  In fact, "Sunlight" was one of them.  But it's hard to pay attention all the time.  So many songs.
Home Video - I Can Make You Feel It 
Jet - She's a Genius

Julian Casablancas - 4 Chords of the Apocalypse
This is the best song I've heard yet off of Julian's solo album (which, I must say, I'm not all that motivated to go track down).  I haven't actively thought about The Strokes for a couple years now, but the fact that they're in the studio working on a new album still makes me happy.
Kittens Ablaze - This Machine is Dying

La Roux - Bulletproof
Oh man ... no excuse for missing this one, either.  Brilliant British girl-pop.  Just bought tickets to see them (her?) at The Fillmore, largely based on the strenth of this song.
Lacrosse - We are Kids 

Modest Mouse - Perpetual Motion Machine
Three years ago, I couldn't imagine a world in which Modest Mouse put out an album and I didn't care.  And yet here we are ...
MSTRKRFT f/ John Legend - Heartbreaker
Curt was fairly adamant that this was the biggest omission from my list.  I dunno, has a little too much "cooler version of One Republic's 'Apologize'" to it.
NASA f/ Kanye West, Santigold, and Lykke Li - Gifted
I just expected more from this one.  Good, but both girls sound like they're doing a bad Nelly Furtado impression at times.
Neko Case - People Got a Lotta Nerve
Another one for the "Curt was adamant" category.  He actually put two copies of this song on my CD, and included the entire Middle Cyclone album for good measure.  I like this song, but I think I would have gone with "This Tornado Loves You."  As always, though, I think Neko does her best work with the New Pornographers.
New Villager - Rich Doors 
Norah Jones - December 
Passion Pit - The Reeling
Paul and the Patients - Blogspot 
Pearl Jam - The Fixer

Peter Gabriel - Book of Love
Aging rocker clings to relevance by recording an album of ultra-hip covers ... I can't even be cynical, I think everyone should do this.  I like Peter Gabriel more because of this.  I don't care if his motives are purely financial.  Here, he does a great job with the Magnetic Fields' classic.
Phantogram - When I'm Small
Plushgun - How We Roll 
Regina Spektor - Laughing With

Switchfoot - Mess of Me
This is the worst song on this list by a pretty wide margin, and I used to love Switchfoot.  The lyric "I wanna spend the rest of my life alive" just makes me sad for everyone involved.  JV Foo Fighters nonsense.
The Meligrove Band - Planets Conspire 
The Takeover UK - Ah La La

Two Door Cinema Club - Something Good Can Work
See above.
Wave Machines - I Go I Go I Go
This one is wayyyyy better than the Wave Machines song that made my list.  No disrespect to "Keep the Lights On," which is fine ... this one is just better.
Weezer - Put Me Back Together
When I Was 12 - Explicit Content

1 comment:

  1. To say that I enjoyed reading this and that it made my day is just a gross understatement. I have emailed your editors a novel-like response that I'm sure will entertain.

    Thank you.