The joke goes like this: What do you call someone who hangs out with a bunch of musicians? Answer: The drummer.
I am a drummer.
If I’m listening to a song and I want my wife Rebecca to hear my favorite part, I will point at the speakers as if the music has a corporeal body that only I can see. “There!” I say. But what I mean is: You see that pinky, the way it curves into the ring finger? That wrinkled skin between the eyebrows? That’s why I like this song.
Here’s the best analogy ever: If I’m navigating life on a motorcycle, then music is hanging in the sidecar, constantly screaming over the noise of the wind. (Full disclosure: I can’t ride a motorcycle.)
What I’m trying to say is I can tell you where I was the first time I heard any of my favorite songs and who was with me. I will leap out of my chair when I recognize a band in the background of a car commercial or TV show. In line at Amy’s Ice Cream the other day, everyone sweaty and avoiding eye contact, I couldn’t believe my luck: Amy Winehouse, Beirut and Department of Eagles all piped through the tinny speakers mounted above the freezer. Also, I will leave a department store if I hear Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I don’t have any idea how to quantify what I like. Or what I don’t like. But I spend a fair bit of time reading music blogs and trading music and downloading music when I should be writing instead. Then I compile my favorites, or just overall oddities, onto a mix CD for Rebecca that I make her listen to without knowing any of the bands. If possible, I like to be there on her first listen so I can judge her reactions. (If you want to make a mix CD for Rebecca, DO NOT include Xiu Xiu.) (Also, please don’t make a mix CD for her or I’ll be forced to work out so I can beat you up, and I hate working out.)
Here’s the most recent mix:
1. Young Liars by TV on the Radio
(Rebecca and I wanted to listen to this song the other day and it wasn’t on my iPod. And then we couldn’t find it on the computer. So I had to pull out my old dusty hard drive and do a search. Now it’s the first song on a mix CD.)
2. Runaway by Oberhofer
(I don’t know much about this band, but if you want to hear the whitest dudes take on Kanye West’s “Runaway,” then this is your jam. Do you remember what Kanye took a picture of? Well, these guys do it too.)
3. Body of Work by The Mynabirds
(I loved their first album and was surprised by how bouncy this song was.)
4. Myth by Beach House
(Everyone was talking about this band for the last few years but I was just too damn cool. Now I listen to them. Sue me.)
5. Asunder by Fang Island
(The best thing about these guys is their song structure. The songs are built like instrumentals with sporadic singing. No discernable verses or choruses, but still unbelievably catchy.)
6. Summer Music by Advance Base
(Advance Base? What the hell? Casiotone for the Painfully Alone was one of the best band names ever. Why would he change his name to Advance Base? And it sounds like he’s doing that same mumble-talking over low-fi beats and keyboards. I mean, you’re guaranteed to forget that name. If I ask you tomorrow to name the new Owen Ashworth project, you’ll have no idea.)
7. VCR (xx Cover) by The Antlers
(Yeah, it’s as awesome as you think. The singer of The Antlers is one creepy singer.)
8. Fair Thee Well by Emily Wells
(I read something about her on eMusic so I gave her a listen. She has a newer album, but I downloaded this one first because she called the songs symphonies. Sort of like hip-hop symphonies. Rebecca thought she sang like those crazy CocoRosie girls. She’s right.)
9. Quickfire, I Tried by Moonface
(Rebecca is a huge Wolf Parade fan but an even bigger Handsome Furs fan. Handsome Furs broke up and it was upsetting so I was hoping to get Rebecca interested in this project by the other singer of Wolf Parade. Not super successful yet. Maybe if he had a crazy hot wife.)
10. Green Grass by Cibelle
(This is how you do a Tom Waits cover.)
11. The Lion by Wise Blood
(I constantly read about Wise Blood on blogs but I can’t seem to get anyone I know in the flesh to like them. Oh well.)
12. Nothing to You by Two Gallants
(Some great lyrics. Wonderful scrappy recording.)
13. Hate by Cat Power
(Taken from The Greatest, which is still the only Cat Power album I listen to. Have you ever heard anyone sing the words “I hate myself and I want to die” with more conviction?)
14. Henrietta by Yeasayer
(These guys make amazing songs 50% of the time. This song from their upcoming album falls into the good half.)
15. Uprising by Muse
(Inside joke revealed: Rebecca and I listen to this song before we play a Borrisokane show to pump ourselves up. I dare you to listen to this and not sing along with the chorus.)
And if you heard our band Borrisokane, you would discover we don’t sound like any of that. In fact, you should listen to our band. We just put out a new album for free download: http://borrisokane.bandcamp.com/album/disaster-face-ep.
I won’t always plug the band. But I’ll probably talk about Rebecca a lot. Catch you next time.