Picks Of The Week #8: The Ps Have It
Hey everyone. It’s been a while since my last post. And I have my reasons. Last week I was away from my computer because I was vacationing with my family at our house in Ocean City, Maryland. I spent the week working on my tan, chilling in a nice warm swimming pool, and actually going into the ocean for once. There are lots of broken seashell bits in the sand as you enter the water and it just really annoys me and kind of hurts my feet a little (I have nice and delicate feet, dammit).
The week before that I went to volunteer at the Philadelphia Union match against Everton and ended up hospitalized with heat exhaustion, which is a pretty crappy experience that I don’t recommend for anyone. I had to stay inside for a few days during the recovery process, but I wasn’t really in the mood for blogging. It made me miss out on the Union’s match against Real Madrid, which sucks because I really wanted to go to that one. But enough about my, um, awesome life. This is a Picks of the Week post, and this week’s picks are all brought to you by the letter P.
And it’s not even like I specifically chose this letter for a POTW post. When I was putting together this little list, I noticed that the songs on it were all by bands whose names began with the letter P. So I figured I might as well make that the theme. But first, check out a couple new tunes from Radiohead and Mastodon.
The Picks of the Week are coming your way after the jump, as always.
Plates Of Cake, “A Band Of Partisans”
I’m not even entirely sure if I remember how I first heard of Plates Of Cake. I think they were mentioned in a thread on the Rotten Tomatoes forum about new music in 2011. This in turn led me to a positive review from Tiny Mix Tapes, which describes them as “the National if the National sounded like everyone says they do” – that is, they’re an indie-rock band from Brooklyn with a baritone-voiced lead singer. And I love the National, so color me intrigued. Of course, they don’t really sound much like the National at all. Their music actually reminds me of early to mid-‘90s indie rock, like Archers Of Loaf or something. Then again, I only really know about Archers Of Loaf from seeing the “Web In Front” video on Beavis and Butt-Head.
I first read about these Aussie alt-rockers in a review on Sputnik Music. Their debut album Foreign Tapes earned pretty high marks, so I figured I’d listen to the samples on iTunes, which remains the only place where I’ve ever found this album (though it hasn’t occurred to me to check websites like Amazon and Insound and whatnot). “Hunters” was the first song that really grabbed my attention; it effectively bounces back and forth between chilly piano riffs and male-female vocal harmonies and bursts of downright thrilling energy. Whenever I hear this song it just makes me want to go running as fast as I can, and I don’t even know where I’d be going but I probably wouldn’t care because this song would be playing and it would feel so awesome.
Pinback, “From Nothing To Nowhere”
Okay, this one’s actually kind of funny. I first heard this song in a YouTube video where someone dubbed it over that scene in The Breakfast Club where Brian puts a record on and everyone starts dancing around the library and somehow they don’t get caught. I guess the principal’s office at Shermer High School is soundproof. And while I’m on the subject, I’d like to state for the record that I think Ally Sheedy looked hotter before she let Molly Ringwald give her a makeover.
But anyway, I’ve had “From Nothing To Nowhere” stuck in my head ever since. It’s full of catchy hooks and riffs and maintains a fast pace that keeps your head nodding and toes tapping. This is just a really fun song to listen to… and probably also to dance to, but my high school library is a half-hour away from my house and doesn’t have any railings or statues or even record players, unless they’ve done some serious remodeling over there.
Pavement, “You Are A Light”
Pavement, “Major Leagues”
I knew Pavement would probably pop up on this list, and it came down to a couple songs from their 1999 swan song Terror Twilight. I wasn’t really sure whether I wanted to include “You Are A Light” or “Major Leagues,” my two favorite songs from that album, so I figured I’d include them both. I really like the guitar work in both these tracks; the melodic lines featured in these songs always stay stuck in my head for a while after hearing them. And Stephen Malkmus kind of reminds me of Beck in the sense that I never understand what his lyrics are about, but they’re pretty creative and always seem to fit what they’re doing.
Pearl Jam, “Man Of The Hour”
Pearl Jam is best known and will probably be best remembered for their harder-rocking affairs like “Even Flow” and “Do The Evolution” and all that. But damn, do I ever love “Man Of The Hour.” It was written for the movie Big Fish and plays over the closing credits, though I hadn’t really noticed it (I don’t usually sit through closing credits) until hearing it on their best-of compilation Rearviewmirror years later. I’ve said numerous times on this blog (and on my radio show) that I’m a sucker for pretty songs. Well, the guitar line in “Man Of The Hour” is absolutely beautiful, so much so that Eddie Vedder doesn’t even need to write a separate vocal melody; he just follows along with that guitar melody. I’ve tried to learn it and could never get it right.
Well, that’ll be all for this edition of Picks of the Week. Be sure to tune in to my all-Q-bands edition, where I celebrate songs by artists whose names begin with Q. You know, like Queen. Or Queens Of The Stone Age. Or Q-Tip, or Quiet Riot, or, um… uh… oh, or the Queers, or… um… uh… hmm… er… uh… Quarashi?