Friday, March 27, 2009

Five Songs, Five Minutes

You know how certain seasons remind you of certain songs? Like, maybe there will be a rainy spring day -- one of those where the rain falls in a calm and constant tap-tap -- and suddenly a song pops in your head and you're right back to that one tiny space in time. That nostalgia grips me when I'm still savoring the first blush of new weather, and spring, especially.

[Tap Tap]

To me music is memory -- and when paired with weather, it's suddenly a powerful form of time travel. Now that it's late March I should be having one of those moments, but it's cold and spring is still hiding its head in its impotent shame. But, even this disappointing weather is already shaping my memory, I'm sure. Because of that, I thought I'd document the songs that are stuck in my head by making a playlist of the first five songs I thought of in five minutes. No thinking -- just going with what first comes to mind. These are those songs:

Ladyfinger (ne), "Bones" (from Dusk)
Why I love it:
I know I've already talked about these guys before, but DAMN! I still love their album. My favorite songs at first were "Plans" and "Little Things" (and I still love them) but now I've moved onto "Bones." There's something about the longing this song communicates that compels me in a big way. The drums, bass, and guitar so perfectly translate that feeling of desire. The chords take you right to that place and don't let go, and the the low groan of the vocals drive it home. Ladyfinger doesn't disappoint in that way, kids.

[Ladyfinger (ne): Rockers, taco enthusiasts]

The lines that get me:

I want to trust my body / I want to bring you close / A little voice said softly, "I want to get you home."

I've got someone waiting / And I think that shows / I know it's only dancing / So one, two we go

Hold me close / Right in your hands / Till we go, I'm your man

Bloc Party, "On" (from A Weekend in the City)
Why I love it:
I've been consuming Bloc Party at alarming rates ever since the first peek of spring. That band has a ridiculous power to make me purse my lips and shake my head around in the stupidest way, no matter where I am. Yep, I'm that stupid chick you see "car dancing"™ on your way to work. It's stupid. It's awesome. But anything that can put me in a good mood driving to work deserves a healthy and sincere car dance.

[Bloc Party's Kele Okereke: Risking cavities to open your beer. What a gentleman.]

The line that sticks in my head:

You make my tongue loose / I am hopeful and stutter-free
Even though I'm 99% sure this a love letter to cocaine (which isn't my deal) I feel like that line captures how I feel right now. When I'm randomly feeling happy and like things are going just right, those are the words that echo in my head.

The Life and Times, "My Last Hostage" (from Suburban Hymns)
Why I love it:
This is a Kansas City band that I saw at The Slowdown and immediately loved. They put on a great live show -- like, I'd never heard them before, but right when I got home I downloaded their album on iTunes (their brilliant marketing team didn't have any to sell at the merch table -- wha??). It's rare that I instantly like a live band I've never heard before -- so when it happens I know it's gold.

[The Life and Times: Being awesome is exhausting. So is patriotism]

The Life and Times has a sort of ambient sound but with a strong driving-rock-anthem undercurrent. They have the kind of songs that you can settle into -- then rock out on.

Favorite line:
I don't have one yet. It's pretty much just the whole song that I dig. It's one of those that wraps its arms around you and lets you rest your head on its chest and hear its heart beat fast. Do you really need a favorite line when a song feels that way?

Lily Allen, "Who'd Have Known?" (from It's Not Me, It's You)
Why I like it:
Yep, I'm getting into this album. I love listening to it, even though I'm compelled to constantly evaluate whether Lily Allen is a bitch. But hey, her snarkiness is what makes everyone love her. And she's 23, so she gets a pass I guess.

I'm not sure why I picked this song. I guess it's a little different for Allen in that it's kinda mellow and shows her soft side -- the one she so desperately hides from the paparazzi. It's nice to see her lose the cutting wit and just settle into a song she might actually be feeling. No more characters on this one.

[Lily Allen: Too cute to be a bitch.]

Come to think of it, this song is kind of stupid. But, perhaps it recalls the 23-year-old in me. Whatever, I chose it so I'm sticking to it.

The lines I like:

I didn't know where this was going / When you kissed me

And today you accidentally / Called me "Baby"

Love songs are cheesy. That's pass #2, Lily.

Ryan Adams, "Magik" (from Cardinology)
Why I love it:
I got really into the new Ryan Adams record even though his voice sounds different on every track. Maybe it's because he's sobered up and pulling a "Bob-Dylan-Found-Jesus-And-Made-His-Voice-Sound-All-Weird." The first several times I listened to the record I heard Neil Young, David Bowie, and Willie Nelson. But "Magik" is the purely Ryan Adams track. This is one of those songs that simply makes me smile. The lyrics are more or less frivolous but this is alt rock at its best. The song asks the listener to "let your body move / let your body sway/ listen to the music play / it's magik." Mission accomplished, dude.

[Ryan Adams: Trying to sound like Willie Nelson. Don't question his methods; he's an artist.]

The line that gets me:
Why list one line when the whole song makes you smile? Lyrics don't matter here.

[Ryan Adams as Philip Seymour Hoffman = Not Magik]


My guess is these are the songs that, years from now, are likely to jog my memory and take me right back to this time and place.

[John Sloan's Spring Rain (1912), Courtesy of the Delaware Museum of Art]

Hopeful and stutter free,

The Shut-In.


  1. Ah, don't tell anyone, but I've yet to download Ladyfinger's new album. I will do it ASAP. As for Bloc Party, after your advice the other day I've been including it in my Springtime Listening Series {tm} & am eternally grateful to you.

  2. Did you know that ol'Kele actually HAS a stuttering problem? I would if I met him. And did you know that the Ryan Adams tie-noose shot is My Favorite Ryan Adams Photo Ever? Thanks, Shut-In!

  3. Um, I kinda want to kidnap the bass player from TLAT and then sequester him in some forest cabin for a while. Just long enough for him to forget about his old life and fall head over heels for me. Solid plan, right? It worked for Annie Wilkes in Misery pretty well if memory serves me correctly...

  4. Dude, yeah. The bass player is hott (two Ts worthy, even), although that photo doesn't do him justice. Mmm, that haircut! I think your plan is solid -- but skip the sledgehammer and rope. You're much hotter than Kathy Bates.

  5. Ryan Adams is a douche seriously, everything he touches turns to suck (no offense). Lily Allen, however, is forever on my playlist.

    No comment on the others.