Friday, January 13, 2006

Vox in the Box (2)

The world is waiting. My self imposed deadline is fast approaching...and I have so much space and so little to say. Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it. This way, please...

When Eddie Murphy was nine or ten years old and a budding comic, he had very little to joke about because he hadn't done anything yet. He hadn't had sex or been drunk or high. But he had taken a shit. So his act was always about taking a shit, 'cause that's all he had done. I took a shit today. It wasn't unique like that monster-piece Ryan photographed at Palisades, but this thing was long. So very very long that it did coil up like a rattle snake. And it just kept coming out- and twisting- like the ice cream machine at Ponderosa.

I am still in reflection mode regarding 2005. I saw U2, Springsteen and Coldplay perform triumphant shows, but, musically, I will remember it is as the year I found Hot Fuss by the Killers. It was released in '04, but I didn't get hold of it until a year ago next week. Our one year anniversary is approaching and I am getting nostalgic for the first time I put that light blue piece of plastic into my Eclipse CD player and heard those swirling helicopters that signify the start of Jenny Was a Friend of Mine. The Fuss is everything I love about rock-n-roll, packed into 11 ridiculously good tracks. Enough has been written about them making synths important again and their talent for new-age storytelling while still evoking Duran Duran, the Cars and Bowie. But I'd like to pimp the band's secret weapon, bassist Mark Stoermer. Mark Stoermer is possibly the best bass-player on the planet. He's Adam Clayton without the never ending parade of eighth notes. He makes Hot Fuss the best album since 1993's Zooropa or August and Everything After. Hey man, buy it.

Check out ESPN.com's Page 2 for an interesting column by Chuck Klosterman comparing Larry Bird and the best player in college hoops, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison. ("White Like Larry" sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=klosterman/060111) Klosterman used to be the rock critic at the Akron Beacon Journal and now writes for SPIN. His two passions are basketball and hair metal, and he has plenty of intelligent opinions. But as much as I love his writing, I disagree with just about everything he's ever said. Chuck, three things I need to tell you:

1. Balance was one of Halen's best album. I'm sorry your girlfriend dumped you right before you reviewed it. But don't hate on the Van Hagar power-ballads. (Hey Rae, what you said is true...I can't stop loving you)
2. When you and Bono were driving around the streets of Dublin in his Mercedes, he was not trying to impress you by giving those fans a lift. That's just Bono. He probably forgot you were in the car. And SPIN never should've sent you on that interview....apparently they never read your asinine assessment of ZOOTV in your book, Fargo Rock City. (one of my favorite books, by the way)
3. I read your Page 2 column twice and I'm still racking my fucking brain trying to make sense of your statements: "Tom Gugliotta ended up being Beck; Keith Van Horn turned out to be Conor Oberst; Mike Dunleavy is probably Ryan Adams." What are you talking about? That makes no sense. Beck is actually Christian Laettner...made a big mainstream splash in the early 90s and then went on to have a stellar career in relative anonymity. Conor Oberst is Kurt Heinrich...young and immensely skilled in all areas, but succeeding under the no-flash radar. And Ryan Adams doesn't deserve a comparison. I guess maybe that was your point- Dunleavy doesn't either? (And Jakob Dylan...that's the easiest one...Jon Barry, all the way.)

2night marks the start of SVAC's annual west coast trip that always turns our gaudy record into mush. Yes, the west coast trip will always expose the season for what it is. In past years, before the january trip, the talk was always how far we would go in the playoffs. After a 1-5 west coast swing, the talk usually changes to: Can we hang on for the 8th seed? Who will lock up the eastern conference's 8th seed...the Cavs, the Celtics or the Sixers? We match up with Detroit pretty well, don't we? Maybe we shouldn't make the playoffs...we're not going anywhere, let's get a better draft pick. You know how it goes. So I'm a little nervous for this game. I would like to sit back and watch it, beat off and have a sandwich- but instead I have to write...

The Random Top 10. (By the way, if yall have any ideas for future Random Top 10s, let me know. Just post it on this blog. I would give my email address, but I learned my lesson from doing that on rollingstone.com. I don't need any more urgent requests asking me to act as next of kin from all of my African friends who happen to be the president/ambassador of Bank of Nigeria and came upon $30 million in unclaimed funds from a man with my last name and no will that recently died in a plane crash.)

Top 10 Singles of 2005:

1. Mr. Brightside/The Killers: Who knew that Brandon Flowers jumping to conclusions in his head could make for such great rock-n-roll theatre? The bassline that sets up the chorus always gets me off. I never knew who the Killers were until I saw this video on VHI Megahits. Fantastic video; Eric Roberts rules.
2. Dakota/Stereophonics: I've always admired their press, but it was Dawnovan that turned me on to this band. The first time I heard Dakota I was so jacked up, I almost called up Zach and asked him if there was an opening in Nasty Varmint for an old friend.
3. Fix You/Coldpay: First time I heard this song, I couldn't even listen past the first verse. Complete rubbish, I thought. Martin whining lousy lyrics. I hated it, and skipped it every time I put on X&Y. Then one day, I was in my car (where 65% of life's great moments happen) and I decided to listen all the way through. And 2 minutes and 35 seconds into it, the guitars start and the heavens opened up for me. Now, it has a lot of personal meaning. I call it my Roscoe song. It helped me make sense of putting Roscoe down. It's almost as if the Chris Martin knew our situation with this dog and wrote the lyrics accordingly.
4. City of Blinding Lights/U2: Forget that it's just a newer version of Streets or that Clayton just recycled the riffs from Whose Gonna Ride...when Bono tells me he's getting ready to leave the ground, I believe him.
5. All These Things I've Done/Killers: You take a little gospel, Vegas-style organs, and Flowers' snappy sense of drama and you have another perfect Killers single. This song is probably on 92.3 right now. I've heard it 4,000 times on the album, and, amazingly enough, it sounds even better on the radio.
6. Talk/Coldplay: You could climb a ladder up to the sun/Or write a song nobody has sung/Or do something that's never been done. Eeek. Kids, those are bad lyrics. But, as usual, it's not what Martin says, but how he says it.
7. Middle of Nowhere/Hot Hot Heat: So they're not breaking any new musical ground, but the arrangement still pushes my buttons. Like the Killers, Heat frontman Steve Bays doubles as the keyboardist. I love the Dylanesque video: the overcoat, kooky hair and plenty of lonely facial expressions during the instrumentals.
8. Original of the Species/U2: Yeah, you heard it in the newest iPod commercial. Bono's own Hey Jude and an ode to mortality, written for Edge's daughter. Watch out-- Q104 just got hold of this song, and they're dead set on ruining it for me. Thank God the band never released Kite as a single.
9. You Can't Steal My Love/Mando Diao: The critics will call this song an energetic rocker from a rising indie band. Maybe so, but all I needed to hear was this lyric: "I said, hey girl have you seen that film with those kids in New York in the eighties / Oh, you have? – well, can I watch it with you anyway!”...and then I knew these guys are the best thing out of Sweden since Roxette.
10. Devils and Dust/Bruce Springsteen: It's not the track I would've released from this album, but it's definitely a vintage Springsteen moment. We don't need any of The Rising's production gimmicks for this one; it picks up right where Tom Joad left us. Bruce nails the mood of today's America in the first two deceptively simple lines: : I got my finger on the trigger/ But I don't know who to trust.

Whew. That was a tough exercise. Much tougher than last week's movie list. Lots of excellent music in 2005. If I left off one of your faves, make your own list.

and someone is calling my name
from the back of the restaurant
and someone is playing a game
in the house that I grew up in
and someone will drive her around
down the same streets that I did
down the same streets that I did

I am Brandon Flowers in the box.
(And I got the Killers off my chest this week. Thanks for your patience; I hope to not have to mention them for awhile.)

au revoir for now; parting is....inevitable